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" Tommy rode gallantly at her, and Toby, recognizing an old friend, was quite 

willing to approach." PAGE 100. 



LITTLE MEN: 



LIFE AT PLUMFIELD WITH JOS BOYS. 



BY 



LOUISA M. ALCOTT, 

AUTHOR OF "LITTLE WOMEN," "AN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL," "EIGHT 

COUSINS," "ROSE IN BLOOM," "UNDER THE LILACS." "JACK 

AND JILL," "HOSPITAL SKETCHES," "WORK," "SILVER 

PITCHERS," "AUNT jo's SCRAP-BAG." 




BOSTON: 
ROBERTS BROTHERS. 

1888. 






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by 

LOUISA M. ALCOTT, 
, . ' ci 

I'u the (Dfli'ce ,b tfi2 librarian of Confess at Washington. 

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THE NEV 



TILDEN 9 MS 



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UNIVERSITY PRESS : 
JOHN WILSON & SON. CAMBSIJ>GS. 



I 



TO 



FREDDY AND JOHNNY, 

Hittle fflcn 



TO WHOM SHE OWES SOME OF THE BEST AND HAPPIEST 
HOURS OF HER 



i - -.-, 

THIS BOOK IS GRATEFULLY DEDICATED 

t : 

BY THEIR LOVING 

J 

"AUNT WEEDY/ 1 



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CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER PAGE 

I. NAT i 

II. THE BOYS 19 

III. SUNDAY 29 

IV. STEPPING-STONES .......... 52 

V. PATTY PANS 66 

VI. A FIRE BRAND 89 

VII. NAUGHTY NAN 113 

XIII. PRANKS AND PLAYS 126 

IX. DAISY'S BALL 140 

X. HOME AGAIN 155 

XI. UNCLE TEDDY 176 

XII. HUCKLEBERRIES 193 

XIII. GOLDILOCKS 221 

XIV. DAMON AND PYTHIAS 231 

XV. IN THE WILLOW 255 

XVI TAMING THE COLT 277 

XVII. COMPOSITION DAY 289 

XVIII. CROPS 305 

XIX. JOHN BROOKE 3*7 

XX. ROUND THE FIRE 33 2 

XXI. THANKSGIVING 357 



4 4X59 




LITTLE MEN: 



LIFE AT PLUMFIELD WITH JO'S BOYS. 



CHAPTER I. 
NAT. 

"PLEASE, sir, is this Plumfieia ? " asked a ragged 
boy of the man who opened the great gate at 
which the omnibus left him. 

" Yes ; who sent you ? " 

" Mr. Laurence. I have got a letter for the lady." 

"All right; go up to the house, and give it to her; 
she '11 see to you, little chap." 

The man spoke pleasantly, and the boy went on, 
feeling much cheered by the words. Through the soft 
spring rain that fell on sprouting grass and budding 
trees, Nat saw a large square house before him a 
hospitable-looking house, with an old-fashioned porch, 
wide steps, and lights shining in many windows. 
Neither curtains nor shutters hid the cheerful glimmer ; 
and, pausing a moment before he rang, Nat saw many 
little shadows dancing on the walls, heard the pleasant 
hum of young voices, and felt that it was hardly possi- 
ble that the light and warmth and comfort within could 
be for a homeless " little chap " like him. 



2 LITTLE MEN. 

" I hope the lady will see to me," he thought ; and 
gave a timid rap with the great bronze knocker, which 
was a jovial griffin's head. 

A rosy-faced servant-maid opened the door, and 
smiled as she took the letter which he silently offered. 
She seemed used to receiving strange boys, for she 
pointed to a seat in the hall, and said, with a nod, 

" Sit there and drip on the mat a bit, while I take 
this in to missis." 

Nat found plenty to amuse him while he waited, and 
stared about him curiously, enjoying the view, yet glad 
to do so unobserved in the dusky recess by the door. 

The house seemed swarming with boys, who were 
beguiling the rainy twilight with all sorts of amuse- 
ments. There w^ere boys everywhere, "up-stairs and 
down-stairs and in the lady's chamber," apparently, for 
various open doors showed pleasant groups of big boys, 
little boys, and middle-sized boys in all stages of even- 
ing relaxation, not to say effervescence. Two large 
rooms on the right w T ere evidently school-rooms, for 
desks, maps, blackboards, and books were scattered 
about. An open fire burned on the hearth, and several 
indolent lads lay on their backs before it, discussing a 
new cricket-ground, with such animation that their 
boots waved in the air. A tall youth was practising 
on the flute in one corner, quite undisturbed by the 
racket all about him. Two or three others were jump- 
ing over the desks, pausing, now and then, to get their 
breath, and laugh at the droll sketches of a little wag 
who was caricaturing the whole household on a black- 
board. 

In the room on the left a long supper-table was seen r 



MAT. 3 

set forth with great pitchers of new milk, piles of brown 
and white bread, and perfect stacks of the shiny ginger- 
bread so dear to boyish souls. A flavor of toast was in 
the air, also suggestions of baked apples, very tantaliz- 
ing to one hungry little nose and stomach. 

The hall, however, presented the most inviting pros- 
pect of all, for a brisk game of tag was going on in the 
upper entry. One landing was devoted to marbles, the 
other to checkers, while the stairs were occupied by a 
boy reading, a girl singing lullaby to her doll, two pup- 
pies, a kitten, and a constant succession of small boys 
sliding down the banisters, to the great detriment of 
their clothes, and danger to their limbs. 

So absorbed did Nat become in this exciting race, 
that he ventured farther and farther out of his corner ; 
and when one very lively boy came down so swiftly 
that he could not stop himself, but fell off the banis- 
ters, with a crash that would have broken any head 
but one rendered nearly as hard as a cannon-ball by 
eleven years of constant bumping, Nat forgot himself 
and ran up to the fallen rider, expecting to find him 
half-dead. The boy, however, only winked rapidly for 
a second, then lay calmly looking up at the new face 
with a surprised " Hullo ! " 

" Hullo ! " returned Nat, not knowing what else to 
say, and thinking that form of reply both brief and 
easy, 

" Are you a new boy ? " asked the recumbent youth, 
without stirring. 

" Don't know yet." 

"What's your name?" 

"Nat Blake." 



4 LITTLE MEN. 

" Mine 's Tommy Bangs ; come up and have a go, 
will you ? " and Tommy got upon his legs like one sud- 
denly remembering the duties of hospitality. 

" Guess I won't, till I see whether I 'm going to stay 
or not," returned Nat, feeling the desire to stay increase 
every moment. 

" I say, Demi, here 's a new one. Come and see to 
him;" and the lively Thomas returned to his sport 
with unabated relish. 

At his call, the boy reading on the stairs looked up 
with a pair of big brown eyes, and after an instant's 
pause, as if a little shy, he put the book under his arm, 
and came soberly down to greet the new-comer, who 
found something very attractive in the pleasant face of 
this slender, mild-eyed boy. 

" Have you seen Aunt Jo ? " he asked, as if that wa? 
some sort of important ceremony. 

"I haven't seen anybody yet but you boys; I'm 
waiting," answered Nat. 

"Did Uncle Laurie send you?" proceeded Demi, 
politely, but gravely. 

"Mr. Laurence did." 

" He is Uncle Laurie ; and he always sends nice 
boys." 

Nat looked gratified at the remark, and smiled, in a 
way that made his thin face very pleasant. He did not 
know what to say next, so the two stood staring at one 
another in friendly silence, till the little girl came up 
with her doll in her arms. She was very like Demi, 
only not so tall, and had a rounder, rosier face, and 
blue eyes. 

" This is my sister Daisy," announced Demi, as if 
presenting a rare and precious creature. 



NAT. 5 

The children nodded to one another ; and the little 
girl's face dimpled with pleasure, as she said, affably, 

" I hope you '11 stay. We have such good times 
here ; don't we, Demi ? " 

" Of course, we do ; that 's what Aunt Jo has Plum- 
field for." 

" It seems a very nice place indeed," observed Nat, 
feeling that he must respond to these amiable young 
persons. 

" It 's the nicest place in the world ; isn't it, Demi ? '' 
said Daisy, who evidently regarded her brother as 
authority on all subjects. 

" No ; I think Greenland, where the icebergs and 
seals are, is more interesting. But I 'm fond of Plum- 
field, and it is a v^ry nice place to be in," returned 
Demi, who was interested just now in a book on Green- 
land. He was abouii to offer to show Nat the picture* 
and explain them, when the servant returned, saying, 
with a nod toward the parlor-door, 

"All right ; you are to stop." 

" I 'm glad ; now come to Aunt Jo." And Daisy 
took him by the hand with a pretty protecting air, 
which made Nat feel at home at once. 

Demi returned to his beloved book, while his sister 
led the new-comer into a back room, where a stout gen- 
tleman was frolicking with two little boys on the sofa, 
and a thin lady was just finishing the letter which she 
seemed to have been re-reading. 

" Here he is, Aunty ! " cried Daisy. 

" So this is my new boy ? I am glad to see you, my 
dear, and hope you'll be happy here," said the lady, 
drawing him to her, and stroking back the hair from 



6 LITTLE MEN. 

his forehead with a kind hand and a motherly look, 
which made Nat's lonely little heart yearn toward her. 

She was not at all handsome, but she had a merry 
sort of face, that never seemed to have forgotten cer- 
tain childish ways and looks, any more than her voice 
and manner had; and these things, hard to describe 
but very plain to see and feel, made her a genial, com- 
fortable kind of person, easy to get on with, and gener- 
ally "jolly," as boys would say. She saw the little 
tremble of Nat's lips as she smoothed his hair, and her 
keen eyes grew softer, but she only drew the shabby 
figure nearer and said, laughing, 

" I am Mother Bhaer, that gentleman is Father 
Bhaer, and these are the two little Bhaers. Come 
here, boys, and see Nat." 

The three wrestlers obeyed at once; and the stout 
man, with a chubby child on each shoulder, came up to 
welcome the new boy. Rob and Teddy merely grinned 
at him, but Mr. Bhaer shook hands, and pointing to a 
low chair near the fire, said, in a cordial voice, 

" There is a place all ready for thee, my son ; sit 
down and dry thy wet feet at once." 

" Wet? so they are ! My dear, off with your shoes 
this minute, and I '11 have some dry things ready for 
you in a jiffy," cried Mrs. Bhaer, bustling about so 
energetically, that Nat found himself in the cosy little 
chair, with dry socks and warm slippers on his feet, 
before he would have had time to say Jack Robinson, 
if he had wanted to try. He said " Thank you, ma'am," 
instead ; and said it so gratefully, that Mrs. Bhaer' s 
eyes grew soft again, and she said something merry, 
because she felt so tender, which was a way she had. 



NAT. 7 

"These are Tommy Bang's slippers; but lie never 
will remember to put them on in the house ; so he shall 
not have them. They are too big ; but that 's all the 
better ; you can't run away from us so fast as if they 
fitted." 

"I don't want to run away, ma'am." And Nat 
spread his grimy little hands before the comfortable 
blaze, with a long sigh of satisfaction. 

"That's good! Now I am going to toast you well, 
and try to get rid of that ugly cough. How long have 
you had it, dear ? '' asked Mrs. Bhaer, as she rummaged 
in her big basket for a strip of flannel. 

" All winter. I got cold, and it wouldn't get better, 
somehow." 

" No wonder, living in that damp cellar with hardly 
a rag to his poor dear back ! r said Mrs. Bhaer, in a 
low tone to her husband, who was looking at the boy 
with a skilful pair of eyes, that marked the thin temples 
and feverish lips, as well as the hoarse voice and 
frequent fits of coughing that shook the bent shoulders 
under the patched jacket. 

" Robin, my man, trot up to Nursey, and tell her to 
give thee the cough-bottle and the liniment," said Mr. 
Bhaer, after his eyes had exchanged telegrams with his 
wife's. 

Nat looked a little anxious at the preparations, but 
forgot his fears, in a hearty laugh, when Mrs. Bhaer 
whispered to him, with a droll look, 

" Hear my rogue Teddy try to cough. The syrup 
I 'm going to give you has honey in it ; and he wants 



some." 



Little Ted was red in the face with his exertions by 



8 LITTLE MEN. 

the time the bottle came, and was allowed to suck the 
spoon, after Nat had manfully taken a dose, and had 
the bit of flannel put about his throat. 

These first steps toward a cure were hardly com- 
pleted, when a great bell rang, and a loud tramping 
through the hall announced supper. Bashful Nat 
quaked at the thought of meeting many strange boys, 
but Mrs. Bhaer held out her hand to him, and Rob said, 
patronizingly, "Don't be 'fraid; I'll take care of you." 

Twelve boys, six on a side, stood behind their chairs, 
prancing with impatience to begin, while the tall flute- 
playing youth was trying to curb their ardor. But no 
one sat down, till Mrs. Bhaer was in her place behind 
the teapot, with Teddy on her left, and Nat on her 
right. 

" This is our new boy, Nat Blake. After supper you 
can say, How do you do ? Gently, boys, gently." 

As she spoke every one stared at Nat, and then 
whisked into their seats, trying to be orderly, and fail- 
ing utterly. The Bhaers did their best to have the lads 
behave well at meal times, and generally succeeded 
pretty well, for their rules were few and sensible, and 
the boys, knowing that they tried to make things easy 
and happy, did their best to obey. But there are times 
when hungry boys cannot be repressed without real 
cruelty, and Saturday evening, after a half-holiday, was 
one of those times. 

" Dear little souls, do let them have one day in which 
they can howl and racket and frolic, to their hearts' 
content. A holiday isn't a holiday, without plenty of 
freedom and fun ; and they shall have full swing once 
a week," Mrs. Bhaer used to say, when prim people 



N-AT. a 

wondered why banister-sliding, pillow-fights, and all 
manner of jovial games were allowed under the once 
decorous roof of Plumfield. 

It did seem at times as if the aforesaid roof was in 
danger of flying off; but it never did, for a word from 
Father Bhaer could at any time produce a lull, and the 
lads had learned that liberty must not be abused. So, 
in spite of many dark predictions, the school flourished, 
and manners and morals were insinuated, without the 
pupils exactly knowing how it was done. 

Nat found himself very well off behind the tall 
pitchers, with Tommy Bangs just round the corner, and 
Mrs. Bhaer close by, to fill up plate and mug as fast as 
he could empty them. 

" Who is that boy next the girl down at the other 
end?" whispered Nat to his young neighbor under 
cover of a general laugh. 

" That 's Demi Brooke. Mr. Bhaer is his uncle." 

" What a queer name ! " 

" His real name is John, but they call him Demi-John, 
because his father is John too. That's a joke, don't 
you see ? " said Tommy, kindly explaining. Nat did 
not see, but politely smiled, and asked, with interest, 

" Isn't he a very nice boy ? " 

" I bet you he is ; knows lots and reads like any- 
thing." 

" Who is the fat one next him ? " 

" Oh, that 's Stuffy Cole. His name is George, but 
we call him Stuffy 'cause he eats so much. The little 
fellow next Father Bhaer is his boy Rob, and then 
there 's big Franz his nephew ; he teaches some, and 
kind of sees to us." 



10 LITTLE MEN. 

" He plays the flute, doesn't he ? " asked Nat as Tom- 
my rendered himself speechless by putting a whole 
baked apple into his mouth at one blow. 

Tommy nodded, and said, sooner than one would 
have imagined possible under the circumstances, " Oh, 
don't he, though ? and we dance sometimes, and do 
gymnastics to music. I like a drum myself, and mean 
to learn as soon as ever I can." 

"I like a fiddle best; I can play one too," said Nat, 
getting confidential on this attractive subject. 

" Can you ? " and Tommy stared over the rim of his 
mug with round eyes, full of interest. " Mr. Bhaer 's 
got an old fiddle, and he '11 let you play on it if you 
want to." 

" Could I ? Oh, I would like it ever so much. You 
see I used to go round fiddling with my father, and an- 
other man, till he died." 

" Wasn't that fun ? " cried Tommy, much impressed. 

" No, it was horrid ; so cold in winter, and hot in 
summer. And I got tired ; and they were cross some- 
times ; and I didn't have enough to eat." Nat paused 
to take a generous bite of gingerbread, as if to assure 
himself that the hard times were over ; and then he 
added regretfully, " But I did love my little fiddle, 
and I miss it. Nicolo took it away when father died, 
and wouldn't have me any longer, 'cause I was sick." 

" You'll belong to the band if you play good. See if 
you don't." 

" Do you have a band here ? " And Nat's eyes 
sparkled. 

" Guess we do ; a jolly band, all boys ; and they have 
concerts and things. You just see what happens to- 
morrow night." 



NAT. 11 

After this pleasantly exciting remark, Tommy re- 
turned to his supper, and Nat sank into a blissful 
reverie over his full plate. 

Mrs. Bhaer had heard all they said, while apparently 
absorbed in filling mugs, and overseeing little Ted, who 
was so sleepy that he put his spoon in his eye, nodded 
like a rosy poppy, and finally fell fast asleep, with his 
cheek pillowed on a soft bun. Mrs. Bhaer had put Nat 
next to Tommy, because that roly-poly boy had a frank 
and social way with him, very attractive to shy persons. 
Nat felt this, and had made several small confidences 
during supper, which gave Mrs. Bhaer the key to the 
new boy's character, better than if she had talked to 
him herself. 

In the letter which Mr. Laurence had sent with Nat, 
he had said 

"DEAR Jo, Here is a case after your own heart. 
This poor lad is an orphan now, sick and friendless. 
He has been a street-musician ; and I found him in a 
cellar, mourning for his dead father, and his lost violin. 
I think there is something in him, and have a fancy that 
between us we may give this little man a lift. You 
cure his overtasked body, Fritz help his neglected mind, 
and when he is ready I '11 see if he is a genius or only a 
boy with a talent which may earn his bread for him* 
Give him a trial, for the sake of your own boy, 

TEDDY." 

" Of course we will ! " cried Mrs. Bhaer, as she read 
the letter ; and when she saw Nat, she felt at once that 
whether he was a genius or not, here was a lonely 5 sick 



12 LITTLE MEN. 

boy, who needed just what she loved to give, a home> 
and motherly care. Both she and Mr. Bhaer observed 
him quietly ; and in spite of ragged clothes, awkward 
manners, and a dirty face, they saw much about Nat 
that pleased them. He was a thin, pale boy, of twelve, 
with blue eyes, and a good forehead under the rough, 
neglected hair ; an anxious, scared face, at times, as if 
he expected hard words, or blows; and a sensitive 
mouth, that trembled when a kind glance fell on him ; 
while a gentle speech called up a look of gratitude, 
very sweet to see. " Bless the poor dear, he shall fiddle 
all day long if he likes," said Mrs. Bhaer to herself, as 
she saw the eager, happy expression on his face when 
Tommy talked of the band. 

So, after supper, when the lads flocked into the 
school-room for more " high jinks," Mrs. Jo appeared 
with a violin in her hand, and after a word with her 
husband, went to Nat, who sat in a corner watching 
the scene with intense interest. 

"Now, my lad, give us a little tune. We want a 
violin in our band, and I think you will do it nicely." 

She expected that he would hesitate ; but he seized 
the old fiddle at once, and handled it with such loving 
care, it was plain to see that music was his passion. 

" I '11 do the best I can, ma'am," was all he said ; and 
then drew the bow across the strings, as if eager to 
hear the dear notes again. 

There was a great clatter in the room, but as if deaf 
V Q any sounds but those he made, Nat played softly to 
himself, forgetting every thing in his delight. It was 
only a simple negro melody, such as street-musicians 
, but it caught the ears of the boys at once, and 



NAT. 13 

silenced them, till they stood listening with surprise 
and pleasure. Gradually they got nearer and nearer, 
and Mr. Bhaer came up to watch the boy ; for, as if he 
was in his element now, Nat played away and never 
minded any one, while his eyes shone, his cheeks red- 
dened, and his thin fingers flew, as he hugged the old 
fiddle and made it speak to all their hearts the language 
that he loved. 

A hearty round of applause rewarded him better than 
a shower of pennies, when he stopped and glanced 
about him, as if to say 

" I 've done my best ; please like it." 

" I say, you do that first rate," cried Tommy, who 
considered Nat his protege. 

" You shall be first fiddle in my band," added Franz, 
with an approving smile. 

Mrs. Bhaer whispered to her husband 

" Teddy is right : there's something in the child." 
And Mr. Bhaer nodded his head emphatically, as he 
clapped Nat on the shoulder, saying, heartily 

" You play well, my son. Come now and play some- 
thing which we can sing." 

It was the proudest, happiest minute of the poor 
boy's life when he was led to the place of honor by the 
piano, and the lads gathered round, never heeding his 
poor clothes, but eying him respectfully, and waiting 
eagerly to hear him play again. 

They chose a song he knew; and after one or two 
false starts they got going, and violin, flute, and piano 
led a chorus of boyish voices that made the old roof 
ring again. It was too much for Nat, more feeble than 
be knew ; and as the final shout died away, his face 



14 LITTLE MEN. 

began to work, he dropped the fiddle, and turning to 
the wall, sobbed like a little child. 

" My dear, what is it ? " asked Mrs. Bhaer, who had 
been singing with all her might, and trying to keep 
little Rob from beating time with his boots. 

" You are all so kind and it 's so beautiful I can't 
help it," sobbed Nat, coughing till he was breathless. 

" Come with me, dear ; you must go to bed and rest ; 
you are worn out, and this is too noisy a place for you," 
whispered Mrs. Bhaer ; and took him away to her own 
parlor, where she let him cry himself quiet. 

Then she won him to tell her all his troubles, and 
listened to the little story with tears in her own eyes, 
though it was not a new one to her. 

"My child, you have got a father and a mother now, 
and this is home. Don't think of those sad times any 
more, but get well and happy ; and be sure you shall 
never suffer again, if we can help it. This place is 
made for all sorts of boys to have a good time in, and 
to learn how to help themselves and be useful men, I 
hope. You shall have as much music as you want, 
only you must get strong first. Now come up to 
Nursey and have a bath, and then go to bed, and to- 
morrow we will lay some nice little plans together." 

Nat held her hand fast in his, but had not a word to 
say, and let his grateful eyes speak for him, as Mrs. 
Bhaer led him up to a big room, where they found a 
stout German woman with a face so round and cheery, 
that it looked like a sort of sun, with the wide frill of 
her cap for rays. 

" This is Nursey Hummel, and she will give you a 
nice bath, and cut your hair, and make you all ' comfy,' 



NAT. 15 

as Rob sayp. That's the bath-room in there; and on 
Saturday nights we scrub all the little lads first, and 
pack them away in bed before the big ones get through 
singing. Now then, Rob, in with you." 

As she talked, Mrs. Bhaer had whipped off Rob's 
clothes and popped him into a long bath-tub in the 
little room opening into the nursery. 

There were two tubs, besides foot-baths, basins, 
douche-pipes, and all manner of contrivances for clean- 
liness. Nat was soon luxuriating in the other bath ; 
and while simmering there, he watched the perform- 
ances of the two women, who scrubbed, clean night- 
gowned, and bundled into bed four or five small boys, 
who, of course, cut up all sorts of capers during the 
operation, and kept every one in a gale of merriment 
till they were extinguished in their beds. 

By the time Nat was washed and done up in a 
blanket by the fire, while Nursey cut his hair, a new 
detachment of boys arrived and were shut into the 
bath-room, where they made as much splashing and 
noise as a school of young whales at play. 

"Nat had better sleep here, so that if his cough 
troubles him in the night you can see that he takes a 
good draught of flax-seed tea," said Mrs. Bhaer, who 
was flying about like a distracted hen with a large 
brood of lively ducklings. 

Nursey approved the plan, finished Nat off with a 
flannel night-gown, a drink of something warm and 
sweet, and then tucked him into one of the three little 
beds standing in the room, where he lay looking like a 
contented mummy, and feeling that nothing more in 
the way of luxury could be offered him. Cleanliness 



16 LITTLE MEN. 

in itself was a new and delightful sensation; flanne* 
gowns were unknown comforts in his world ; sips o) 
"good stuff" soothed his cough as pleasantly as kind 
words did his lonely heart ; and the feeling that some- 
body cared for him made that plain room seem a sort 
of heaven to the homeless child. It was like a cosy 
dream ; and he often shut his eyes to see if it would 
not vanish when he opened them again. It was too 
pleasant to let him sleep, and he could not have done 
so if he had tried, for in a few minutes one of the 
peculiar institutions of Plumfield was revealed to his 
astonished but appreciative eyes. 

A momentary lull in the aquatic exercises was fol- 
lowed by the sudden appearance of pillows flying in all 
directions, hurled by white goblins, who came rioting 
out of their beds. The battle raged in several rooms, 
all down the upper hall, and even surged at intervals 
into the nursery, when some hard-pressed warrior took 
refuge there. No one seemed to mind this explosion 
in the least; no one forbade it, or even looked sur- 
prised. Nursey went on hanging up towels, and Mrs. 
Bhaer looked out clean clothes, as calmly as if the 
most perfect order reigned. Nay, she even chased one 
daring boy out of the room, and fired after him the 
pillow he had slyly thrown at her. 

" Won't they hurt 'em ? " asked Nat, who lay laugh- 
ing with all his might. 

" Oh dear, no ! we always allow one pillow-fight 
Saturday night. The cases are changed to-morrow; 
and it gets up a glow after the boys' baths; so I rather 
like it myself," said Mrs. Bhaer, busy again among her 
dozen pairs of socks. 



NAT. 17 

i 

' ' What a very nice school this is ! " observed Nat, 
in a burst of admiration. 

"It's an odd one," laughed Mrs. Bhaer; "but you 
see we don't believe in making children miserable by 
too many rules, and too much study. I forbade night- 
gown parties at first ; but, bless you, it was of no use. 
I could no more keep those boys in their beds, than so 
many jacks in the box. So I made an agreement with 
them : I was to allow a fifteen-minute pillow-fight, 
every Saturday night ; and they promised to go prop- 
erly to bed, every other night. I tried it, and it worked 
well. If they don't keep their word, no frolic ; if they 
do, I just turn the glasses round, put the lamps in safe 
places, and let them rampage as much as they like." 

"It's a beautiful plan," said Nat, feeling that he 
should like to join in the fray, but not venturing to 
propose it the first night. So he lay enjoying the 
spectacle, which certainly was a lively one. 

Tommy Bangs led the assailing party, and Demi 
defended his own room with a dogged courage, fine to 
see, collecting pillows behind him as fast as they were 
thrown, till the besiegers were out of ammunition, 
when they would charge upon him in a body, and 
recover their arms. A few slight accidents occurred, 
but nobody minded, and gave and took sounding 
thwacks with perfect good humor, while pillows flew 
like big snow flakes, till Mrs. Bhaer looked at her 
watch, and called out 

" Time is up, boys. Into bed, every man Jack, or 
pay the forfeit!" 

" What is the forfeit ? " asked Nat, sitting up in his 
eagerness to know what happened to those wretches who 

2 



18 LITTLE MEN. 

disobeyed this most peculiar, but public-spirited school- 
ma'am. 

"Lose their fun next time," answered Mrs. Bhaer. 
" I give them five minutes to settle down, then put out 
the lights, and expect order. They are honorable lads, 
and they keep their word." 

That was evident, for the battle ended as abruptly as 
it began a parting shot or two, a final cheer, as Demi 
fired the seventh pillow at the retiring foe, a few chal- 
lenges for next time, then order prevailed ; and nothing 
but an occasional giggle, or a suppressed whisper, broke 
the quiet which followed the Saturday-night frolic, as 
Mother Bhaer kissed her new boy, and left him to happy 
dreams of life at Plumfield. 



CHAPTER n. 

THE BOYS. 

WHILE Nat takes a good long sleep, I will tell my 
little readers something about the boys, among 
whom he found himself when he woke up. 

To begin with our old friends. Franz was a tall lad. 

O 

of sixteen now, a regular German, big, blond, and book- 
ish, also very domestic, amiable, and musical. His 
uncle was fitting him for college, and his aunt for a 
happy home of his own hereafter, because she carefully 
fostered in him gentle manners, love of children, respect 
for women, old and young, and helpful ways about the 
house. He was her right-hand man on all occasions, 
steady, kind, and patient ; and he loved his merry aunt 
like a mother, for such she had tried to be to him. 

Emil was quite different, being quick-tempered, rest- 
less, and enterprising, bent on going to sea, for the 
blood of the old vikings stirred in his veins, and could 
not be tamed. His uncle promised that he should go 
when he was sixteen, and set him to studying naviga- 
tion, gave him stories of good and famous admirals and 
heroes to read, and let him lead the life of a frog in 
river, pond, and brook, when lessons were done. His 
room looked like the cabin of a man-of-war, for every 



20 LITTLE MEN. 

thing was nautical, military, and ship shape. Captain 
Kyd was his delight, and his favorite amusement was 
to rig up like that piratical gentleman, and roar out 
sanguinary sea-songs at the top of his voice. He would 
dance nothing but sailors' hornpipes, rolled in his gait, 
and was as nautical in conversation as his uncle would 
permit. The boys called him " Commodore," and took 
great pride in his fleet, which whitened the pond and 
suffered disasters that would have daunted any com- 
mander but a sea-struck boy. 

Demi was one of the children who show plainly the 
effect of intelligent love and care, for soul and body 
worked harmoniously together. The natural refine- 
ment which nothing but home influence can teach, gave 
him sweet and simple manners : his mother had cher- 
ished an innocent and loving heart in him ; his father 
had watched over the physical growth of his boy, and 
kept the little body straight and strong on wholesome 
food and exercise and sleep, while Grandpa March cul- 
tivated the little mind with tho tender wisdom of a 
modern Pythagoras, not tasking it with long, hard 
lessons, parrot-learned, but helping it to unfold as 
naturally and beautifully as sun and dew help roses 
bloom. He was not a perfect child, by any means, but 
his faults were of the better sort ; and being early 
taught the secret of self-control, he was not left at the 
mercy of appetites and passions, as some poor little 
mortals are, and then punished for yielding to the 
temptations against which they have no armor. A 
quiet, quaint boy was Demi, serious, yet cheery, quite 
unconscious that he was unusually bright and beautiful, 
yet quick to see and love intelligence or beauty in other 



THE BOYS. 21 

children. Very fond of books, and full of lively fancies, 
born of a strong imagination and a spiritual nature, 
these traits made his parents anxious to balance them 
with useful knowledge and healthful society, lest they 
should make him one of those pale precocious children 
who amaze and delight a family sometimes, and fade 
away like hot-house flowers, because the young soul 
blooms too soon, and has not a hearty body to root it 
firmly in the wholesome soil of this world. 

So Demi was transplanted to Plumfield, and took so 
kindly to the life there, that Meg and John and grand- 
pa felt satisfied that they had done well. Mixing with 
other boys brought out the practical side of him, roused 
his spirit, and. brushed away the pretty cobwebs he was 
so fond of spinning in that little brain of his. To be 
sure, he rather shocked his mother when he came home, 
by banging doors, saying " by George " emphatically, 
and demanding tall thick boots "that clumped like 
papa's." But John rejoiced over him, laughed at his 
explosive remarks, got the boots, and said contentedly, 
" He is doing well ; so let him clump. I want my son 
to be a manly boy, and this temporary roughness won't 
hurt him. We can polish him up by and by ; and as 
for learning, he will pick that up as pigeons do peas. 
So don't hurry him." 

Daisy was as sunshiny and charming as ever, with all 
sorts of little womanlinesses budding in her, for she was 
like her gentle mother, and delighted in domestic things. 
She had a family of dolls, whom she brought up in the 
most exemplary manner ; she could not get on with- 
out her little work-basket and bits of sewing, which she 
did so nicely, that Demi frequently pulled out his 



22 LITTLE HER. 

kerchief to display her neat stitches, and Baby Josy had 
a flannel petticoat beautifully made by Sister Daisy. 
She liked to quiddle about the china-closet, prepare the 
salt-cellars, put the spoons straight on the table ; and 
every day went round the parlor with her brush, dust- 
ing chairs and tables. Demi called her a " Betty," but 
was very glad to have her keep his things in order, lend 
him her nimble fingers in all sorts of work, and help 
him with his lessons, for they kept abreast there, and 
had no thought of rivalry. 

The love between them was as strong as ever ; and 
no one could laugh Demi out of his affectionate ways 
with Daisy. He fought her battles valiantly, and never 
could understand why boys should be ashamed to say 
" right out," that they loved their sisters. Daisy adored 
her twin, thought " my brother " the most remarkable 
boy in the world, and every morning, in her little wrap- 
per, trotted to tap at his door with a motherly " Get 
up, my dear, it's 'most breakfast time ; and here's your 
clean collar." 

Rob was an energetic morsel of a boy, who seemed 
to have discovered the secret of perpetual motion, for 
he never was still. Fortunately, he was not mischiev- 
ous, nor very brave ; so he kept out of trouble pretty 
well, and vibrated between father and mother like an 
affectionate little pendulum with a lively tick, for Rob 
was a chatterbox. 

Teddy was too young to play a very important part 
in the affairs of Plumfield, yet he had his little sphere, 
and filled it beautifully. Every one felt the need of a 
pet at times, ana Baby was always ready to accommo- 
date, for kissing and cuddling suited him excellently. 



THE BOYS. 23 

Mrs. Jo seldom stirred without him ; so he had his lit- 
tle finger in all the domestic pies, and every one found 
them all the better for it, for they believed in babies at 
Plumfield. 

Dick Brown, and Adolphus or Dolly Pettingill, were 
two eight-years olds. Dolly stuttered badly, but was 
gradually getting over it, for no one was allowed to 
mock him and Mr. Bhaer tried to cure it, by making 
him talk slowly. Dolly was a good little lad, quite 
uninteresting and ordinary, but he flourished here, and 
went through his daily duties and pleasures with placid 
content and propriety. 

Dick Brown's affliction was a crooked back, yet he 

' V 

bore his burden so cheerfully, that Demi once asked in 
his queer way, " Do humps make people good-natured ? 
I 'd like one if they do." Dick was always merry, and 
did his best to be like other boys, for a plucky spirit 
lived in the feeble little body. When he first came, 
he was very sensitive about his misfortune, but soon 
learned to forget it, for no one dared remind him of it, 
after Mr. Bhaer had punished one boy for laughing at 
him. 

" God don't care ; for my soul is straight if my back 
isn't," sobbed Dick to his tormentor on that occasion ; 
and, by cherishing this idea, the Bhaers soon led him to 
believe that people also loved his soul, and did not mind 
his body, except to pity and help him to bear it. 

Playing menagerie once with the others, some one 
said, " What animal will you be, Dick ? " 

" Oh, I 'm the dromedary ; don't you see the hump on 
my back ? " was the laughing answer. 

" So you are, my nice little one that don't carry loads, 



24 LITTLE MEN. 

but marches by the elephant first in the procession," 
said Demi, who was arranging the spectacle. 

" I hope others will be as kind to the poor dear as my 
boys have learned to be," said Mrs. Jo, quite satisfied 
with the success of her teaching, as Dick ambled past 
her, looking like a very happy, but a very feeble little 
dromedary, beside stout Stuffy, who did the elephant 
with ponderous propriety. 

Jack Ford was a sharp, rather a sly lad, who was sent 
to this school, because it was cheap. Many men would 
have thought him a smart boy, but Mr. Bhaer did not 
like his way of illustrating that Yankee word, and 
thought his unboyish keenness and money-loving as 
much of an affliction as Dolly's stutter, or Dick's hump. 

Ned Barker was like a thousand other boys of four- 
teen, all legs, blunder, and bluster. Indeed the family 
called him the " Blunderbuss," and always expected to 
see him tumble over the chairs, bump against the tables, 
and knock down any small articles near him. He 
bragged a good deal about what he could do, but sel- 
dom did any thing to prove it, was not brave, and a little 
given to tale-telling. He was apt to bully the small 
boys, and flatter the big ones, and without being at all 
bad, was just the sort of fellow who could very easily 
be led astray. 

George Cole had been spoilt by an over-indulgent 
mother, who stuffed him with sweetmeats till he was 
sick, and then thought him too delicate to study, so that 
at twelve years old, he was a pale, puffy boy, dull, fret- 
ful, and lazy. A friend 'persuaded her to send him to 
Plumfield, and there he soon got waked up, for sweet 
things were seldom allowed, much exercise required, 



TEE BOYS. 25 

and study made so pleasant, that Stuffy was gently 
lured along, till he quite amazed his anxious mamma by 
his improvement, and convinced her that there was really 
something remarkable in Plumfield air. 

Billy Ward was what the Scotch tenderly call an 
" innocent," for though thirteen years old, he was like a 
child of six. He had been an unusually intelligent boy, 
and his father had hurried him on too fast, giving him 
all sorts of hard lessons, keeping him at his books six 
hours a day, and expecting him to absorb knowledge as 
a Strasburg goose does the food crammed down its 
throat. He thought he was doing his duty, but he 
nearly killed the boy, for a fever gave the poor child a 
sad holiday, and when he recovered, the overtasked 
brain gave out, and Billy's mind was like a slate over 
which a sponge has passed, leaving it blank. 

It was a terrible lesson to his ambitious father ; he 
could not bear the sight of his promising child, changed 
to a feeble idiot, and he sent him away to Plumfield, 
scarcely hoping that he could be helped, but sure that 
he would be kindly treated. Quite docile and harmless 
was Billy, and it was pitiful to see how hard he tried 
to learn, as if groping dimly after the lost knowledge 
which had cost him so much. Day after day, he pored 
over the alphabet, proudly said A and B, and thought 
that he knew them, but on the morrow they were gone, 
and all the work was to -be done over again. Mr. Bhaer 
had infinite patience with him, and kept on in spite of 
the apparent hopelessness of the task, not caring for 
book lessons, but trying gently to clear away the mists 
from the darkened mind, an -1 give it back intelligence 
enough to make the boy less a burden and an affliction. 



26 LITTLE MEN. 

Mrs. Bhaer strengthened his health by every aid she 
could invent, and the boys all pitied and were kind to 
him. He did not like their active plays, but would sit 
for hours watching the doves, would dig holes for 
Teddy till even that ardent grubber was satisfied, or 
follow Silas, the man, from place to place seeing him 
work, for honest Si was very good to him, and though 
he forgot his letters Billy remembered friendly faces. 

Tommy Bangs was the scapegrace of the school, and 
the most trying little scapegrace that ever lived. As 
full of mischief as a monkey, yet so good-hearted that 
one could not help forgiving his tricks ; so scatter- 
brained that words went by him like the wind, yet so 
penitent for every misdeed, that it was impossible to 
keep sober when he vowed tremendous vows of refor- 
mation, or proposed all sorts of queer punishments to 
be inflicted upon himself. Mr. and Mrs. Bhaer lived in 
a state of preparation for any mishap, from the breaking 
of Tommy's own neck, to the blowing up of the entire 
family with gunpowder ; and Nursey had a particular 
drawer in which she kept bandages, plasters, and salves 
for his especial use, for Tommy was always being 
brought in half dead ; but nothing ever killed him, and 
he rose from every downfall with redoubled vigor. 

The first day he came, he chopped the top off one 
finger in the hay-cutter, and during the week, fell from 
the shed roof, was chased by an angry hen who tried to 
pick his eyes out because he examined her chickens, 
got run away with, and had his ears boxed violently 
by Asia, who caught him luxuriously skimming a pan 
of cream with half a stolen pie. Undaunted, however, 
by any failures or rebuffs, this indomitable youth went 



THE BOYS. 27 

on amusing himself with all sorts of tricks till no one 
felt safe. If he did not know his lessons, he always had 
some droll excuse to offer, and as he was usually clever 
at his books, and as bright as a button in composing 
answers when he did not know them, he got on pretty 
well at school. But out of school, Ye gods and little 
fishes! how Tommy did carouse! 

He wound fat Asia up in her own clothes line against 
the post, and left her there to fume and scold for half 
an hour one busy Monday morning. He dropped a hot 
cent down Mary Ann's back as that pretty maid was 
Waiting at table one clay when there were gentlemen to 
dinner, whereat the poor girl upset the soup and rushed 
out of the room in dismay, leaving the family to think 
that she had gone mad. He fixed a pail of water up in 
a tree, with a bit of ribbon fastened to the handle, an^ 
when Daisy, attracted by the gay streamer, tried to pull 
it down, she got a douche bath that spoiled her clean 
frock and hurt her little feelings very much. He put 
rough white pebbles in the sugar-bowl when his grand- 
mother came to tea, and the poor old lady wondered 
why they didn't melt in her cup, but was too polite to say 
any thing. He passed round snuff in church so that five of 
the boys sneezed with such violence they had to go out. 
He dug paths in winter time, and then privately watered 
them so that people should tumble down. He drove 
poor Silas nearly wild by hanging his big boots in con- 
spicuous places, for his feet were enormous, and he was 
very much ashamed of them. He persuaded confiding 
little Dolly to tie a thread to one of his loose teeth, and 
leave the string hanging from his mouth when he went 
to sleep, so that Tommy could pull it out without his 



28 LITTLE MEN. 

feeling the dreaded operation. But the tooth wouldn't 
come at the first tweak, and poor Dolly woke up in 
great anguish of spirit, and lost all faith in Tommy 
from that day forth. The last prank had been to give 
the hens bread soaked in rum, which made them tipsy 
and scandalized all the other fowls, for the respectable 
old biddies went staggering about, pecking and cluck- 
ing in the most maudlin manner, while the family were 
convulsed with laughter at their antics, till Daisy took 
pity on them and shut them up in the hen-house to 
sleep off their intoxication. 

These were the boys, and they lived together as hap- 
pily as twelve lads could, studying and playing, working 
and squabbling, fighting faults and cultivating virtues 
in the good old-fashioned way. Boys at other schools 
probably learned more from books, but less of that bet- 
ter wisdom which makes good men. Latin, Greek, and 
mathematics were all very well, but in Professor Bhaer's 
opinion, self-knowledge, self-help, and self-control were 
more important, and he tried to teach them carefully. 
People shook their heads sometimes at his ideas, even 
while they owned that the boys improved wonderfully 
in manners and morals. But then, as Mrs. Jo said to 
Nat, it was an " odd school." 



CHAPTER III. 

SUNDAY. 



T 



moment the bell rang next morning Nat fletr 



out of bed, and dressed himself with great satis- 
faction in the suit of clothes he found on the chair. 
They were not new, being half-worn garments of one of 
the well to-do boys ; but Mrs. Bhaer kept all such cast- 
off feathers for the picked robins who strayed into her 
nest. They were hardly on when Tommy appeared in 
a high state of clean collar, and escorted Nat down to 
breakfast. 

The sun was shining into the dining-room on the welk 
spread table, and the flock of hungry, hearty lads who 
gathered round it. Nat observed that they were much 
more orderly than they had been the night before, and 
every one stood silently behind his chair while little 
Rob, standing beside his father at the head of the table, 
folded his hands, reverently bent his curly head, and 
softly repeated a short grace in the devout German 
fashion, which Mr. Bhaer loved and taught his little 
eon to honor. Then they all sat down to enjoy the 
Sunday-morning breakfast of coffee, steak, and baked 
potatoes, instead of the bread and milk fare with which 
they usually satisfied their voung appetites. There was 



80 LITTLE MEN. 

much pleasant talk while the knives and forks rattled 
briskly, for certain Sunday lessons were to be learned, 
the Sunday walk settled, and plans for the week dis- 
cussed. As he listened, Nat thought it seemed as if 
this day must be a very pleasant one, for he loved quiet f 
and there was a cheerful sort of hush over every thing 
that pleased him very much ; because, in spite of hit 
rough life, the boy possessed the sensitive nerves which 
belong to a music-loving nature. 

" Now, my lads, get your morning jobs done, and let 
me find you ready for church when the 'bus comes 
round," said Father Bhaer, and set the example by 
going into the school-room to get books ready for the 
morrow. 

Every one scattered to his or her task, for each had 
Borne little daily duty, and was expected to perform it 
faithfully. Some brought wood and water, brushed the 
Bteps, or ran errands for Mrs. Bhaer. Others fed the 
pet animals, and did chores about the barn with Franz. 
Daisy washed the cups, and Demi wiped them, for the 
twins liked to work together, and Demi had been 

O ' 

taught to make himself useful in the little house at 
home. Even baby Teddy had his small job to do, and 
trotted to and fro, putting napkins away, and pushing 
chairs into their places. For half an hour the lads 
buzzed about like a hive of bees, then the 'bus drove 
round, Father Bhaer and Franz with the eight older 
boys piled in, and away they went for a three mile drive 
to church in town. 

Because of the troublesome cough Nat preferred to 
^tay at home with the four small boys, and spent a 
happy morning in Mrs. Bhaer's room, listening to the 



SUNDAY. 3} 

stories she read them, learning the hymn she taught 
them, and then quietly employing himself pasting pict- 
ures into an old ledger. 

" This is my Sunday closet," she said, showing him 
shelves filled with picture-books, paint-boxes, architect- 
ural blocks, little diaries, and materials for letter-writ- 
ing. " I want my boys to love Sunday, to find it a 
peaceful, pleasant day, when they can rest from common 
study and play, yet enjoy quiet pleasures, and learn, in 
simple ways, lessons more important than any taught in 
school. Do you understand me ? " she asked, watching 
Nat's attentive face. 

" You mean to be good ? " he said, after hesitating a 
minute. 

" Yes ; to be good, and to love to be good. It is hard 
work sometimes, I know very well ; but we all help one 
another, and so we get on. This is one of the ways in 
which I try to help my boys," and she took down a 
thick book, which seemed half-full of writing, and 
opened at a page OP which there was one word at 
the top. 

" Why, that 's my name ! * cried Nat, looking both 
surprised and interested. 

" Yes ; I have a page for each boy. I keep a little 
account of how he gets on through the week, and Sun- 
day night I show him the record. If it is bad I am 
sorry and disappointed, if it is good I am glad and 
proud ; but, whichever it is, the boys know I want to 
help them, and they try to do their best for love of me 
and Father Bhaer." 

" I should think they would," said Nat, catching a 
glimpse of Tommy's name opposite his own, and won- 
dering what was written under it. 



$2 LITTLE MEN. 

Mrs. Bhaer saw his eye on the words, and shook her 
head, saying, as she turned a leaf 

" No, I don't show my records to any but the one to 
whom each belongs. I call this my conscience book ; 
and only you and I will over know what is to be writ- 

*> / 

ten on the page below your name. Whether you will 
be pleased or ashamed to read it next Sunday depends 
on yourself. I think it will be a good report ; at any 
rate, I shall try to make things easy for you in this new 
place, and shall be quite contented if you keep our few 
rules, live happily with the boys, and learn something." 

" I '11 try, ma'am ; " and Nat's thin face flushed up 
with the earnestness of his desire to make Mrs. Bhaer 
u glad and proud," not " sorry and disappointed." " It 
must be a great deal of trouble to write about so many," 
he added, as she shut her book with an encouraging pat 
on the shoulder. 

" Not to me, for I really don't know which I like best, 
writing or boys," she said, laughing to see Nat stare 
with astonishment at the last item. " Yes, I know many 
people think boys are a nuisance, but that is because 
they don't understand them. I do ; and I never saw 
the boy yet whom I could not get on capitally with 
after I had once found the soft spot in his heart. Bless 
me, I couldn't get on at all without my flock of dear, 
noisy, naughty, harum-scarum little lads, could I, my 
Teddy?" and Mrs. Bhaer hugged the young rogue, 
just in time to save the big inkstand from going into 
his pocket. 

Nat, who had never heard any thing like this before, 
really did not know whether Mother Bhaer was a trifle 
crazy, or the most delightful woman he had ever met. 



SUNDAY. 33 

He rather inclined to the latter opinion, in spite of her 
peculiar tastes, for she had a way of filling up a fellow's 
plate before he asked, of laughing at his jokes, gently 
tweaking him by the ear, or clapping him on the shoul- 
der, that Nat found very engaging. 

" Now, I think you would like to go into the school- 
room, and practise some of the hymns we are to sing 
to-night," she said, rightly guessing the thing of all 
others that he wanted to do. 

Alone with the beloved violin and the music-book 
propped up before him in the sunny window, while 
Spring beauty filled the world outside, and Sabbath 
silence reigned within, Nat enjoyed an hour or two of 
genuine happiness, learning the sweet old tunes, and 
forgetting the hard past in the cheerful present. 

When the church-goers came back and dinner was 
over, every one read, wrote letters home, said their 
Sunday lessons, or talked quietly to one another, sitting 
here and there about the house. At three o'clock the 
entire family turned out to walk, for all the active young 
bodies must have exercise ; and in these walks the ac- 
tive young minds were taught to see and love the prov^ 
idence of God in the beautiful miracles which Nature 
was working before their eyes. Mr. Bhaer always went 
with them, and in his simple, fatherly way, found for 
his flock "Sermons in stones, books in the running 
brooks, and good in every thing." 

Mrs. Bhaer with Daisy and her own two boys drove 
into town, to pay the weekly visit to Grandma, which 
was busy Mother Bhaer's one holiday and greatest 
pleasure. Nat was not strong enough for the long walk, 
and asked to stay at home with Tommy, who kindly 



34 LITTLE MEN. 

offered to do the honors of Plumfield. " You Ve seen 
the house, so come out and have a look at the garden, 
and the barn, and the menagerie," said Tommy, when 
they were left alone with Asia, to see that they didn't 
get into mischief; for, though Tommy was one of the 
best meaning boys who ever adorned knickerbockers, 
accidents of the most direful nature were always hap- 
pening to him, no one could exactly tell how. 

" What is your menagerie ? " asked Nat, as they 
trotted along the drive that encircled the house. 

" We all have pets you see, and we keep 'em in the 
corn-barn, and call it the menagerie. Here you are. 
Isn't my guinea-pig a beauty ? " and Tommy proudly 
presented one of the ugliest specimens of that pleasing 
animal that Nat ever saw. 

" I know a boy with a dozen of 'em, and he said he 'd 
'five me one, only I hadn't any place to keep it, so I 
jouldn't have it. It was white, with black spots, a 
regular rouser, and maybe I could get it for you if 
you 'd like it," said Nat, feeling it would be a delicate 
return for Tommy's attentions. 

" I 'd like it ever so much, and I '11 give you this one, 
and they can live together if they don't fight. Those 
white mice are Rob's, Franz gave 'em to him. The 
rabbits are Ned's, and the bantams outside are Stuify's. 
That box thing is Demi's turtle-tank, only he hasn't 
begun to get 'em yet. Last year he had sixty-two, 
whackers some of 'em. He stamped one of 'em with 
his name and the year, and let it go ; and he says maybe 
he will find it ever so long after and know it. He read 
about a turtle beino; found that had a mark on it that 

^j 

showed it must be hundreds of years old. Demi 's such 
a funny chap." 



SUNDAY. 35 

" What is in this box ? r> asked Nat, stopping before 
a large deep one, half-full of earth. 

" Oh, that 's Jack Ford's worm-shop. He digs heaps 
of 'em and keeps 'em here, and when we want any to 
go a fishing with, we buy some of him. It saves lots 
of trouble, only he charged too much for 'em. Why, 
last time we traded I had to pay two cents a dozen, and 
then got little ones. Jack 's mean sometimes, and I 
told him I 'd dig for myself if he didn't lower his prices. 
Now, I own two hens, those gray ones with top knots, 
first-rate ones they are too, and I sell Mrs. Bhaer the 
eggs, but I never ask her more than twenty-five cents a 
dozen, never ! I 'd be ashamed to do it," cried Tommy 
with a glance of scorn at the worm-shop. 

" Who owns the dogs ? " asked Nat, much interested 
in these commercial transactions, and feeling that T. 
Bangs was a man whom it would be a privilege and a 
pleasure to patronize. 

"The big dog is Emil's. His name is Christopher 
Columbus. Mrs. Bhaer named him because she likes 
to say Christopher Columbus, and no one minds it if 
she means the dog," answered Tommy, in the tone of 
a showman displaying his menagerie. " The white pup 
is Rob's, and the yellow one is Teddy's. A man waa 
going to drown them in our pond and Pa Bhaer 
wouldn't let him. They do well enough for the little 
chaps, I don't think much of 'em myself. Their names 
are Castor and Pollux." 

"I'd like Toby the donkey best, if I could have any 
thing, it's so nice to ride, and he's so little and good," 
said Nat, remembering the weary tramps he had 
taken on his own tired feet. 



36 LITTLE MEN. 

"Mr. Laurie sent him. out to Mrs. Bhaer, so she 
shouldn't carry Teddy on her back when we go to 
walk. We're all fond of Toby, and he's a first-rate 
donkey, sir. Those pigeons belong to the \vhole lot of 
us, we each have our pet one, and go shares in all the 
little ones as they come along. Squabs are great fun ; 
there ain't any now, but you can go up and take a look 
at the old fellows, while I see if Cockletop and Granny 
have laid any eggs." 

Nat climbed up a ladder, put his head through a trap 
door and took a long look at the pretty doves billing 
and cooing in their spacious loft. Some on their nests, 
some bustling in and out, and some sitting at their 
doors, while many went flying from the sunny house- 
top to the straw r -strewn farmyard, where six sleek 
cows were placidly ruminating. 

"Everybody has got something but me. I wish I 
had a dove, or a hen, or even a turtle, all my own," 
thought Nat, feeling very poor as he saw the interest- 
ing treasures of the other boys. " How do you get 
these things?" he asked, when he joined Tommy in 
the barn. 

" We find 'em, or buy 'em, or folks give 'em to us. 
My father sends me mine ; but as soon as I get egg 
money enough, I 'm going to buy a pair of ducks. 
There 's a nice little pond for 'em behind the barn, and 
people pay well for duck-eggs, and the little duckies 
are pretty, and it 's fun to see 'em swim," said Tommy, 
with the air of a millionnaire. 

Nat sighed, for he had neither father nor money, 
nothing in the wide world but an old empty pocket- 
book, and the skill that lay in his ten finger tips. 



SUNDAY. 37 

Tommy seemed to understand the question and the 
sio-h which followed his answer, for after a moment of 
deep thought, he suddenly broke out 

" Look here, I '11 tell you what I '11 do. If you will 
hunt eggs for me, I hate it, I '11 give you one egg out of 
every dozen. You keep account, and when you've 
had twelve, Mother Bhaer will give you twenty-five 
cents for 'em, and then you can buy what you like, don't 
you see ? r 

" I '11 do it ! What a kind feller you are, Tommy ! " 
cried Nat, quite dazzled by this brilliant ofier. 

" Pooh ! that is not any thing. You begin now and 
rummage the barn, and I '11 wait here for you. Granny 
is cackling, so you 're sure to find one somewhere," and 
Tommy threw himself down on the hay with a luxu- 
rious sense of having made a good bargain, and done a 
friendly thing. 

Nat joyfully began his search, and went rustling 
from loft to loft till he found two fine eggs, one hidden 
under a beam, and the other in an old peck measure, 
which Mrs. Cockletop had appropriated. 

"You may have one and I'll have the other, that 
will just make up my last dozen, and to-morrow we'll 
start fresh. Here, you chalk your accounts up near 
mine, and then we'll be all straight," said Tommy, 
showing a row of mysterious figures on the smooth 
side of an old winnowing machine. 

With a delightful sense of importance, the proud 
possessor of one egg opened his account with his friend, 
who laughingly wrote above the figures these imposing 
words, 

T. Bangs & Co." 



38 LITTLE MEN. 

Poor Nat found them so fascinating that he was 
with difficulty persuaded to go and deposit his first 
piece of portable property in Asia's store-room. Then 
they went on again, and having made the acquaintance 
of the two horses, six cows, three pigs, and one Alder- 
ney "Bossy," as calves are called in New England, 
Tommy took Nat to a certain old willow-tree that 
overhung a noisy little brook. From the fence it was 
an easy scramble into a wide niche between the three 
big branches, which had been cut off to send out from 
year to year a crowd of slender twigs, till a green can- 
opy rustled overhead. Here little seats had been fixed, 
and in a hollow place a closet made big enough to hold 
a book or two, a dismantled boat, and several half- 
finished whistles. 

" This is Demi's and my private place ; we made it, 
and nobody can come up unless we let 'em, except 
Daisy, we don't mind her," said Tommy, as Nat looked 
with delight from the babbling brown water below to 
the green arch above, where bees were making a musi- 
cal murmur as they feasted on the long yellow blos- 
soms that filled the air with sweetness. 

" Oh, it 's just beautiful ! " cried Nat. " I do hope 
you '11 let me up sometimes. I never saw such a nice 
place in all my life. I 'd like to be a bird, and live here 
always." 

"It is pretty nice. You can come if Demi don't 
mind, and I guess he won't, because he said last night 
that he liked you." 

" Did he ? " and Nat smiled with pleasure, for Demi's 
regard seemed to be valued by all the boys, partly 
because he was Father Bhaer's nephew, and partly 



SUNDAY. 39 

because he was such a sober, conscientious little fel- 
low. 

" Yes ; Demi likes quiet chaps, and I guess he and 
you will get on if you care about reading as he does." 

Poor Nat's flush of pleasure deepened to a painful 
scarlet at those last words, and he stammered out 

" I can't read very well ; I never had any time ; I 
was always fiddling round, you know." 

" I don't love it myself, but I can do it well enough 
when I want to," said Tommy, after a surprised look, 
which said as plainly as words, " A boy twelve years 
old and can't read ! " 

" I can read music, anyway," added Nat, rather 
ruffled at having to confess his ignorance. 

" I can't ; " and Tommy spoke in a respectful tone, 
which emboldened Nat to say firmly 

" I mean to study real hard and learn every thing I 
can, for I never had a chance before. Does Mr. Bhaer 
give hard lessons ? r 

" No, he isn't a bit cross ; he sort of explains and 
gives you a boost over the hard places. Some folks 
don't ; my other master didn't. If we missed a word, 
didn't we get raps on the head ! " and Tommy rubbed 
his own pate as if it tingled yet with the liberal supply 
of raps, the memory of which ^as the only thing he 
brought away after a year, with his " other master." 

I think I could read this," said Nat, who had been 
examining the books. 

"Read a bit, then; I'll help you," resumed Tommy, 
with a patronizing air. 

So Nat did his best, and floundered through a page 
with many friendly " boosts " from Tommy, who told 



40 LITTLE MEN. 

him he would soon "go it " as well as anybody. Then 
they sat and talked boy-fashion about all sorts of things, 
among others, gardening ; for Nat, looking down from 
his perch, asked what was planted in the many little 
patches lying below them on the other side of the 
brook. 

" These are our farms," said Tommy. " We each 
have our own patch, and raise what we like in it, only 
we have to choose different things, and can't change 
till the crop is in, and we must keep it in order all 



summer." 



" What are you going to raise this year ? " 

"Wai, I ca^eated to hev beans, as they are about 
the easiest crop a-goin'." 

Nat could not help laughing, for Tommy had pushed 
back his hat, put his hands in his pockets, and drawled 
out his words in unconscious imitation of Silas, the man 
who managed the place for Mr. Bhaer. 

" Come, you needn't laugh ; beans are ever so much 
easier than corn or potatoes. I tried melons last year, 
but the bugs were a bother, and the old things wouldn't 
get ripe before the frost, so I didn't have but one good 
water and two little 'mush mellions," 1 said Tommy, 
relapsing into a " Silasism r with the last word. 

" Corn looks pretty growing," said Nat, politely, to 
atone for his laugh. 

" Yes, but you have to hoe it over and over again. 
Now, six weeks' beans only have to be done once or so, 
and they get ripe soon. I 'm going to try 'em, for I 
spoke first. Stuffy wanted 'em, but he 's got to take 
peas ; they only have to be picked, and he ought to do 
it, he eats such o, lot." 



SUNDAY. 41 

<c I wonder if I shall have a garden ? " said Nat, 
thinking that even corn hoeing must be pleasant 
work. 

" Of course you will," said a voice from below, and 
there was Mr. Bhaer returned from his walk, and come 
to find them, for he managed to have a little talk with 
every one of the lads sometime during the day, and 
found that these chats gave them a good start for the 
coming week. 

Sympathy is a sweet thing, and it worked wonders 
here, for each boy knew that Father Bhaer was in- 
terested in him, and some were readier to open their 
hearts to him than to a woman, especially the older 
ones, who liked to talk over their hopes and plans, man 
to man. When sick or in trouble they instinctively 
turned to Mrs. Jo, while the little ones made her their 
mother-confessor on all occasions. 

In descending from their nest, Tommy fell into the 
brook ; being used to it he calmly picked himself out 
and retired to the house to be dried. This left Nat to 
Mr. Bhaer, which was just what he wished, and, during 
the stroll they took among the garden plots, he won the 
lad's heart by giving him a little "farm," and discussing 
crops with him as gravely as if the food for the family 
depended on the harvest. From this pleasant topic 
they went to others, and Nat had many new and help- 
ful, thoughts put into a mind that received them as 
gratefully as the thirsty earth had received the warm 
spring rain. All supper time he brooded over them, 
often fixing his eyes on Mr. Bhaer with an inquiring 
look, that seemed to say, "I like that, do it again, 
air." I don't know whether the man understood the 



42 LITTLE MEN. 

child's mute language or not, but when the boys were 
all gathered together in Mrs. Bhaer's parlor for the 
Sunday evening talk, he chose a subject which might 
have been suggested by the walk in the garden. 

As he looked about him Nat thought it seemed more 
like a great family than a school, for the lads were sit- 
ting in a wide half-circle round the fire, some on chairs, 
some on the rug, Daisy and Demi on the knees of uncle 
Fritz, and Rob snugly stowed away in the back of his 
mother's easy-chair, where he could nod unseen if the 
talk got beyond his depth. Every one looked quite 
comfortable, and listened attentively, for the long walk 
made rest agreeable, and as every boy there knew that 
he would be called upon for his views, he kept his wits 
awake to be ready with an answer. 

" Once upon a time," began Mr. Bhaer in the dear 
old-fashioned way, "there was a great and wise gar- 
dener who had the largest garden ever seen. A won- 
derful and lovely place it was, and he watched over it 
with the greatest skill and care, and raised all manner 
of excellent and useful things. But weeds would grow 
even in this fine garden ; often the ground was bad and 
the good seeds sown in it would not spring up. He 
had many under gardeners to help him. Some did 
their duty and earned the rich wages he gave them ; 
but others neglected their parts and let them run to 
waste, which displeased him. much. But he was very 
patient, and for thousands and thousands of years he 
worked and waited for his great harvest." 

" He must have been pretty old," said Demi, who 
was looking straight into uncle Fritz's face, as if to 
catch every word. 



SUNDAY. 43 

Hush, Demi, it 's a fairy story," whispered Daisy. 

" No, I think it's a arrygory," said Demi. 

" What is a arrygory ? " called out Tommy, who was 
of an inquiring turn. 

" Tell him, Demi, if you can, and don't use words 
unless you are quite sure you know what they mean," 
said Mr. Bhaer. 

"I do know, grandpa told me ! A fable is a arry- 
gory ; it's a story that means something. My 'Story 
without an end ' is one, because the child in it means 
a soul ; don't it, aunty ? " cried Demi, eager to prove 
himself right. 

"That's it, dear; and uncle's story is an allegory, I 
am quite sure; so listen and see what it means," re- 
turned Mrs. Jo, who always took part in whatever was 
going on, and enjoyed it as much as any boy among 
them. 

Demi composed himself, and Mr. Bhaer went on in 
his best English, for he had improved much in the last 
five years, and said the boys did it. 

" This great gardener gave a dozen or so of little 
plots to one of his servants, and told him to do his best 
and see what he could raise. Now this servant was not 
rich, nor wise, nor very good, but he wanted to help 
because the gardener had been very kind to him in 
many ways. So he gladly took tho little plots and 
fell to work. They were all sorts of shapes and sizes, 
and some were very good soil, some rather stony, 
and all of them needed much care, for in the rich soil 
the weeds grew fast, and in the poor soil there were 
many stones." 

" What was growing in them besides the weeds, and 



44 LITTLE MEN. 

stones ? " asked Nat ; so interested, he forgot his shynesa 
and spoke before them. all. 

" Flowers," said Mr. Bhaer, with a kind look. " Even 
the roughest, most neglected little bed had a bit of 
heart's-ease or a sprig of mignonette in it. One had ro^ 
ses, sweet peas, and daisies in it," here he pinched the 
plump cheek of the little girl leaning on his arm. " An- 
other had all sorts of curious plants in it, bright pebbles, 
a vine that went climbing up like Jack's bean-stalk, and 
many good seeds just beginning to sprout; for, you see, 
this bed had been taken fine care of by a wise old 
man, who had worked in gardens of this sort all his 
life." 

At this part of the " arrygory," Demi put his head on 
one side like an inquisitive bird, and fixed his bright 
eye on his uncle's face, as if he suspected something and 
was on the watch. But Mr: Bhaer looked perfectly in- 
nocent, and went on glancing from one young face to 
another, with a grave, wistful look, that said much to 
his wife, who knew how earnestly he desired to do his 
duty in these little garden plots. 

" As I tell you, some of these beds were easy to cul- 
tivate, that means to take care of, Daisy, and others 
were very hard. There was one particularly sunshiny 
little bed, that might have been full of fruits and vege- 
tables as well as flowers, only it wouldn't take any pains, 
and when the man sowed, well, we '11 say melons in this 
bed, they came to nothing, because the little bed neg- 
lected them. The man was sorry, and kept on trying, 
though every time the crop failed, all the bed said, was, 
4 1 forgot.'" 

Here a, general laugh broke out. and every one looked 



SUNDA1. 45 

at Tommy, who had pricked up his ears at the word 
" melons," and hung down his head at the sound of his 
favorite excuse. 

" I knew he meant us ! ' : cried Demi, clapping his 
hands. " You are the man, and we are the little gar- 
dens ; aren't we, Uncle Fritz ? " 

" You have guessed it. Now each of you tell me 
what crop I shall try to sow in you this spring, so that 
next autumn I may get a good harvest out of my 
twelve, no, thirteen, plots," said Mr. Bhaer, nodding at 
Nat as he corrected himself. 

"You can't sow corn and beans and peas in us. 
Unless you mean we are to eat a great many and get 
fat," said Stuffy, with a sudden brightening of his 
round, dull face as the pleasing idea occurred to him. 

"He don't mean that kind of seeds. He means 
things to make us good; and the weeds are faults," 
cried Demi, who usually took the lead in these talks, 
because he was used to this sort of thing, and liked it 
very much. 

" Yes, each of you think what you need most, and 
tell me, and I will help you to grow it ; only, you must 
do your best, or you will turn out like Tommy's melons 
all leaves and no fruit. I will begin with the oldest, 
and ask the mother what she will have in her plot, for 
we are all parts of the beautiful garden, and may have 
rich harvests for our Master if we love Him enough,*' 
said Father Bhaer. 

" I shall devote the whole of my plot to the largest 
crop of patience I can get, for that is what I need most," 
said Mrs. Jo, so soberly that the lads fell to thinking in 
good earnest what they should say when their turns 



46 LITTLE MEN. 

came, and some among them felt a twinge of remorse, 
that they had helped to use up Mother Bhaer's stock of 
patience so fast. 

Franz wanted perseverance, Tommy steadiness, Ned 
went in for good temper, Daisy for industry, Demi fot 
" as much wiseness as grandpa," and Nat timidly said 
he wanted so many things he would let Mr. Bhaer 
choose for him. The others chose much the same 
things, and patience, good temper, and generosity 
seemed the favorite crops. One boy wished to like to 
get up early, but did not know what name to give that 
sort of seed ; and poor StuiFy sighed out 

" I wish I loved my lessons as much as I do my din- 
ner, but I can't." 

" We will plant self-denial, and hoe it and water it, 
and make it grow so well that next Christmas no one 
Will get ill by eating too much dinner. If you exercise 
your mind, George, it will get hungry just as your body 
does, and you will love books almost as much as my 
philosopher here," said Mr. Bhaer; adding, as he 
stroked the hair off Demi's fine forehead, "You are 
greedy also, my son, and you like to stuff your little 
mind full of fairy tales and fancies, as well as George 
likes to fill his little stomach with cake and candy. 
Both are bad, and I want you to try something better. 
Arithmetic is not half so pleasant as ' Arabian Nights,' 
I know, but it is a very useful thing, and now is the 
time to learn it, else you will be ashamed and sorry by 
and by." 

" But, ' Harry and Lucy,' and ; Frank,' are not fairy 
books, and they are all full of barometers, and bricks, 
and shoeing horses, and useful things, and I 'm fond of 



SUNDAY. 47 

them; ain't I, Daisy?" said Demi, anxious to defend 
himself. 

"So they are; but I find you reading 'Roland and 
Maybird ' a great deal oftener than ' Harry and Lucy,' 
and I think you are not half as fond of ' Frank ' as you 
are of ' Sinbad.' Come, I shall make a little bargain 
with you both, George shall eat but three times a 
day, and you shall read but one story book a week, and 
I will give you the new cricket-ground ; only, you must 
promise to play in it," said Uncle Fritz in his persuasive 
way, for Stuify hated to run about, and Demi was 
always reading in play hours. 

" But we don't like cricket," said Demi. 

" Perhaps not now, but you will when you know it. 
Besides, you do like to be generous, and the other boys 
want to play, and you can give them the new ground if 
you choose." 

This was taking them both on the right side, and 
they agreed to the bargain, to the great satisfaction of 
the rest. 

There was a little more talk about the gardens, and 
then they all sang together. The band delighted Nat, 
for Mrs. Bhaer played the piano, Franz the flute, Mr. 
Bhaer a bass viol, and he himself the violin. A very 
simple little concert, but all seemed to enjoy it, and old 
Asia, sitting in the corner, joined at times with the 
sweetest voice of any, for in this family, master and 
servant, old and young, black and white, shared in the 
Sunday song, which went up to the Father of them 
all. After this they each shook hands with Father 
Bhaer ; Mother Bhaer kissed them every one from six- 
teen-year old Franz to little Rob, who kept the tip of 



48 LITTLE MEN, 

her nose for his own particular kisses, and then they 
trooped up to bed. 

The light of the shaded lamp that burned in the 
nursery shone softly on a picture hanging at the foot of 
Nat's bed. There were several others on the walls, 
but the boy thought there must be something pecu- 
liar about this one, for it had a graceful frame of 
moss and cones about it, and on a little bracket under- 
neath stood a vase of wild flowers freshly gathered 
from the spring woods. It was the most beautiful 
picture of them all, and Nat lay looking at it dimly 
feeling what it meant, and wishing he knew all about it. 

^3 * c^ 

" That 's my picture," said a little voice in the room. 
Nat popped up his head, and there was Demi in his 
night-gown pausing on his way back from Aunt Jo's 
chamber, whither he had gone to get a cot for a cut 
finger. 

" What is he doing to the children ? " asked Nat. 

" That is Christ, the Good Man, and He is blessing 
the children. Don't you know about Him? ' said 
Demi, wondering. 

" Not much, but I 'd like to, He looks so kind," 
answered Nat, whose chief knowledge of the Good 
Man consisted in hearing His name taken in vain. 

" I know all about it, and I like it very much, because 
it is true," said Demi. 

" Who told you ? " 

" My Grandpa, he knows every thing, and tells the 
best stories in the world. I used to play with his big 
books, and make bridges, and railroads, and houses, 
when I was a little boy," began Demi. 

" How old are you now ? " asked Nat, respectfully. 



SDNDAF. 49 

'Most ten." 

" You know a lot of things, don't you V " 

" Yes ; you see my head is pretty big, and Grandpa 
says it will take a good deal to fill it, so I keep putting 
pieces of wisdom into it as fast as I can," returned 
Demi, in his quaint way. 

Nat laughed, and then said soberly 

" Tell on, please." 

And Demi gladly told on without pause or punctua- 
tion. " I found a very pretty book one day and wanted 
to play with it, but Grandpa said I mustn't, and showed 
me the pictures, and told me about them, and I liked 
the stories very much, all about Joseph and his bad 
brothers, and the frogs that came up out of the sea, 
and dear little Moses in the water, and ever so many 
more lovely ones, but I liked about the Good Man best 
of all, and Grandpa told it to me so many times that I 
learned it by heart, and he gave me this picture so 
I shouldn't forget, and it was put up here once when 
I was sick, and I left it for other sick boys to see." 

" What makes Him bless the children ? " asked Nat, 
who found something very attractive in the chief figure 
of the group. 

" Because He loved them." 

" Were they poor children ? " asked Nat, wistfully. 

" Yes, I think so ; you see some haven't got hardly 
any clothes on, and the mothers don't look like rich 
ladies. He liked poor people, and was very good to 
them. He made them well, and helped them, and told 
rich people they must not be cross to them, and they 
loved Him dearly, dearly," cried Demi with enthu- 
siasm. 



50 LITTLE MEN. 

"Was He rich?" 

" Oh no ! He was born in a barn, and was so poor He 
hadn't any house to live in when He grew up, and 
nothing to eat sometimes, but what people gave Him, 
and He went round preaching to everybody, and try- 
ing to make them good, till the bad men killed Him." 

" What for ? " and Nat sat up in his bed to' look and 
listen, so interested was he in this man who cared for 
the poor so much. 

" I '11 tell you all about it ; Aunt Jo won't mind ; " 
and Demi settled himself on the opposite bed, glad to 
tell his favorite story to so good a listener. 

Nursey peeped in to see if Nat was asleep, but when 
ghe saw what was going on, she slipped away again, 
A id went to Mrs. Bhaer, saying with her kind face full 
of motherly emotion 

" Will the dear lady come and see a pretty sight ? 
It' s Nat listening with all his heart to Demi telling 
the story of the Christ-child, like a little wlrte angel 
as he is." 

Mrs. Bhaer had meant to go and talk with Nat a 
moment before he slept, for she had found that a serious 
word spoken at this time often did much good. But 
when she stole to the nursery door, and saw Nat eager- 
ly drinking in the words of his little friend, while Demi 
told the sweet and solemn story as it had been taught 
him, speaking softly as he sat with his beautiful eyes 
fixed on the tender face above them, her own filled 
with tears, and she went silently away, thinking to her- 
self 

" Demi is unconsciously helping the poor boy better 
than I can ; I will not spoil it by a single word. 5 ' 



SUNDAY. 51 

The murmur of the childish voice went on for a long 
time, as one innocent heart preached that great sermon 
to another, and no one hushed it. When it ceased at 
last, and Mrs. Bhaer went to take away the lamp, Demi 
was gone and Nat fast asleep, lying with his face to- 
ward the picture, as if he had already learned to love 
the Good Man who loved little children, and was a 
faithful friend to the poor. The boy's face was very 
placid, and as she looked at it she felt that if a single 
day of care and kindness had done so much, a year of 
patient cultivation would surely bring a grateful harvest 
from this neglected garden, which was already sown 
with the best of all seed by the little missionary in the 
night-gown. 



CHAPTER IV. 
STEPPING-STONES. 

WHEN Nat went into school on Monday morning, 
he. quaked inwardly, for now he thought he 
should have to display his ignorance before them all. 
But Mr. Bhaer gave him a seat in the deep window, 
where he could turn his back on the others, and Franz 
heard him say his lessons there, so no one could hear 
his blunders or see how he blotted his copy-book. He 
was truly grateful for this, and toiled away so diligently 
that Mr. Bhaer said, smiling, when he saw his hot face 
and inky fingers 

" Don't work so hard, my boy ; you will tire yourself 
out, and there is time enough." 

" But I must work hard, or I can't catch up with the 
others. They know heaps, and I don't know any thing," 
said Nat, who had been reduced to a state of despair 
by hearing the boys recite their grammar, history, and 
geography with what he thought amazing ease and 
accuracy. 

" You know a good many things which they don't," 
said Mr. Bhaer, sitting down beside him, while Franz 
led a class of small students through the intricacies of 
the multiplication table. 



STEPPING-STONES. 53 

tt Do I ? " and Nat looked utterly incredulous. 

" Yes ; for one thing, you can keep your temper, and 
Jack, who is quick at numbers, cannot ; that is an excel- 
lent lesson, and I think you have learned it well. Then, 
you can play the violin, and not one of the lads can, 
though they want to do it very much. But, best of all, 
Nat, you really care to learn something, and that is half 
the battle. It seems hard at first, and you will feel dis- 
couraged, but plod away, and things will get easier and 
easier as you go on." 

Nat's face had brightened more and more as he 
listened, for, small as the list of his learning was, it 
cheered him immensely to feel that he had any thing to 
fall back upon. " Yes, I can keep my temper father's 
beating taught me that; and I can fiddle, though I 
don't know where the Bay of Biscay is," he thought, 
with a sense of comfort impossible to express. Then 
he said aloud, and so earnestly that T^emi heard him 

" I do want to learn, and I will try. I never went to 
school, but I couldn't help it ; and if the fellows don't 
laugh at me, I guess I '11 get on first rate you and the 
lady are so good to me." 

" They shan't laugh at you ; if they do, I '11 I '11 
tell them not to," cried Demi, quite forgetting where 
he was. 

The class stopped in the middle of 7 times 9, and 
every one looked up to see what was going on. 

Thinking that a lesson in learning to help one another 
was better than arithmetic just then, Mr. Bhaer told 
them about Nat, making such an interesting and touch- 
ing little story out of it that the good-hearted lads all 
promised to lend him a hand, and felt quite honored to 



54 LITTLE MEN. 

be called upon to impart their stores of wisdom to the 
chap who fiddled so capitally. This appeal estab- 
lished the right feeling among them, and Nat had few 
hindrances to struggle against, for every one was glad 
to give him a " boost " up the ladder of learning. 

Till he was stronger, much study was not good for 
him, however, and Mrs. Jo found various amusements 
in the house for him while others W 7 ere at their books. 
But his garden was his best medicine, and he worked 
away like a beaver, preparing his little farm, sowing his 
beans, watching eagerly to see them grow, and rejoicing 
over each green leaf and slender stalk that shot up and 
flourished in the warm spring weather. Never was a 
garden more faithfully hoed ; Mr. Bhaer really feared 
that nothing would find time to grow, Nat kept up such 
a stirring of the soil ; so he gave him easy jobs in the 
flower garden or among the strawberries, where he 
worked and hummed as busily as the bees booming all 
about him. 

" This is the crop I like best," Mrs. Bhaer used to say, 
as she pinched the once thin cheeks now getting plump 
and ruddy, or stroked the bent shoulders that were 
slowly straightening up with healthful work, good food, 
and the absence of that heavy burden, poverty. 

Demi was his little friend, Tommy his patron, and 
Daisy the comforter of all his woes ; for, though the 
children were younger than he, his timid spirit found a 
pleasure in their innocent society, and rather shrunk 
from the rough sports of the elder lads. Mr. Laurence 
did not forget him, but sent clothes and books, music 
and kind messages, and now and then came out to see 
Iiis boy was getting on, or took him into town to a 



STEPPING-STONES 55 

concert ; on which occasions Nat felt himself translated 
into the seventh heaven of bliss, for he went to Mr. 
Laurence's great house, saw his pretty wife and little 
fairy of a daughter, had a good dinner, and was made 
so comfortable, that he talked and dreamed of it for 
days and nights afterward. 

It takes so little to make a child happy, that it is a 
pity in a world full of sunshine and pleasant things, that 
there should be any wistful faces, empty hands, or lonely 
little hearts. Feeling this, the Bhaers gathered up all 
the crumbs they could find to feed their flock of 
hungry sparrows, for they were not rich, except in 
charity. Many of Mrs. Jo's friends who had nurseries 
sent her the toys of which their children so soon tired, 
and in mending these Nat found an employment that 
just suited him. He was very neat and skilful with 
those slender fingers of his, and passed many a rainy 
afternoon with his gum-bottle, paint-box, and knife, 
repairing furniture, animals, and games, while Daisy 
was dressmaker to the dilapidated dolls. As fast as the 
toys were mended, they were put carefully away in a 
certain drawer which was to furnish forth a Christmas- 
tree for all the poor children of the neighborhood, that 
being the way the Plumfield boys celebrated the birth- 
day of Him who loved the poor and blessed the little 
ones. 

Demi was never tired of reading and explaining his 
favorite books, and many a pleasant hour did they 
spend in the old willow, revelling over "Robinson 
Crusoe," " Arabian Nights," " Edgeworth's Tales," and 
the other dear immortal stories that will delight chil- 
dren for centuries to come. This opened a new world 



56 LITTLE MEN. 

to Nat, and his eagerness to see what came next in the 
story helped him on till he could read as well as any- 
body, and felt so rich and proud with his new accom- 
plishment, that there was danger of his being as much 
of a bookworm as Demi. 

Another helpful thing happened in a most unexpected 
and agreeable manner. Several of the boys were " in 
business," as they called it, for most of them were poor, 
and knowing that they would have their own way to 
make by and by, the Bhaers encouraged any efforts at 
independence. Tommy sold his eggs ; Jack speculated 
in live stock ; Franz helped in the teaching, and was 
paid for it ; Ned had a taste for carpentry, and a turn- 
ing-lathe was set up for him in which he turned all sorts 
of useful or pretty things, and sold them ; while Demi 
constructed water-mills, whirligigs, and unknown ma- 
chines of an intricate and useless nature, and disposed 
of them to the boys. 

" Let him be a mechanic if he likes," said Mr. Bhaer. 
" Give a boy a trade, and he is independent. Work is 
wholesome, and whatever talent these lads possess, be it 
for poetry or ploughing, it shall be cultivated and 
made useful to them if possible." 

So when Nat came running to him one day to ask 
with an excited face 

" Can I go and fiddle for some people who are to 
have a pic-nic in our woods ? They will pay me, and 
I'd like to earn some money as the other boys do, and 
fiddling is the only way I know how to do it," 

Mr. Bhaer answered readily 

"Go, and welcome. It is an easy and a pleasant 
way to work, and I am glad it is offered you.'* 



STEPPING-STONES. 57 

Nat went, and did so well, that when he came home 
he had two dollars in his pocket, which he displayed 
with intense satisfaction, as he told how much he had 
enjoyed the afternoon, how kind the young people 
were, and how they had praised his dance-music, and 
promised to have him again. 

" It is so much nicer than fiddling in the street, for 
then I got none of the money, and now I have it all, 
and a good time besides. I 'm in business now as well 
as Tommy and Jack, and I like it ever so much," said 
Nat, proudly patting the old pocket-book, and feeling 
like a millionnaire already. 

He was in business truly, for pic-nics were plenty as 
summer opened, and Nat's skill was in great demand. 
He was always at liberty to go if lessons were not neg- 
lected, and if the pic-nics were respectable young peo- 
ple. For Mr. Bhaer explained to him that a good 
plain education is necessary for every one, and that no 
amount of money should hire him to go where he 
might be tempted to do wrong. Nat quite agreed to 
this, and it was a pleasant sight to see the innocent- 
hearted lad go driving away in the gay wagons that 
stopped at the gate for him, or to hear him come fid- 
dling home tired but happy, with his well-earned 
money in one pocket, and some "goodies" from the 
feast for Daisy or little Ted, whom he never forgot. 

" I 'm going to save up till I get enough to buy a 
violin for myself, and then I can earn my own living, 
can't I ? " he used to say, as he brought his dollars to 
Mr. Bhaer to keep. 

" I hope so, Nat ; but we must get you strong and 
hearty first, and put a little more knowledge into this 



08 LITTLE MEN. 

musical head of yours. Then Mr. Laurie will find you 
a place somewhere, and in a few years we will all come 
to hear you play in public." 

With much congenial work, encouragement, and 
hope, Nat found life getting easier and happier every- 
day, and made such progress in his music lessons, that 
his teacher forgave his slowness in some other things, 
knowing very well that where the heart is the mind 
works best. The only punishment the boy ever needed 
for neglect of more important lessons was to hang up 
the fiddle and the bow for a day. The fear of losing 
his bosom friend entirely made him go at his books 
with a will ; and having proved that he could master 
the lessons, what was the use of saying " I can't " ? 

Daisy had a great love of music, and a great rever- 
ence for any one who could make it, and she was often 
found sitting on the stairs outside Nat's door while 
he was practising. This pleased him very much, and he 
played his best for that one quiet little listener ; for she 
never would come in, but preferred to sit sewing her 
gay patchwork, or tending one of her many dolls, with 
an expression of dreamy pleasure on her face that made 
Aunt Jo say, with tears in her eyes, 

" So like my Beth," and go softly by, lest even her 
familiar presence mar the child's sweet satisfaction. 

Nat was very fond of Mrs. Bhaer, but found some- 
thing even more attractiA^e in the good professor, who 
took fatherly care of the shy feeble boy, who had 
barely escaped with his life from the rough sea on 
which his little boat had been tossing rudderless for 
twelve years. Some good angel must have watched 
over him, for, though his body had suffered, his soul 



STEPPING-STONES. 59 

seemed to have taken little harm, and came ashore as 
innocent as a shipwrecked baby. Perhaps his love of 
music kept it sweet in spite of the discord all about 
him ; Mr. Laurie said so, and he ought to know. How- 
ever that might be, Father Bhaer took real pleasure in 
fostering poor Nat's virtues, and in curing his faults, 
finding his new pupil as docile and affectionate as a 
girl. He often called Nat his " daughter " when speak- 
ing of him to Mrs. Joe, and she used to laugh at his 
fancy, for Madame liked manly boys, and thought Nat 
amiable but weak, though you never would have 
guessed it, for she petted him as she did Daisy, and he 
thought her a very delightful woman. 

One fault of Nat's gave the Bhaers much anxiety, 
although they saw how it had been strengthened by 
fear and ignorance. I regret to say that Nat some- 
times told lies. Not very black ones, seldom getting 
deeper than gray, and often the mildest of white fibs; 
but that did not matter, a lie is a lie, and though we all 
tell many polite untruths in this queer world of ours, 
it is not right, and everybody knows it. 

" You cannot be too careful ; watch your tongue, and 
eyes, and hands, for it is easy to tell, and look, and act 
untruth," said Mr. Bhaer, in one of the talks he had 
with Nat about his chief temptation. 

" I know it, and I don't mean to, but it 's so much 
easier to get along if you ain't very fussy about being 
exactly true. I used to tell 'em because I was afraid 
of father and Nicolo, and now I do sometimes because 
the boys laugh at me. I know it 's bad, but I forget," 
and Nat looked much depressed by his sins. 

" When I was a little lad I used to tell lies ! Ach I 



60 LITTLE MEN. 

what fibs they were, and my old grandmother cured me 
of it how, do you think ? My parents had talked, and 
cried, and punished, but still did I forget as you. Then 
said the dear old grandmother, 'I shall help you to 
remember, and put a check on this unruly part,' with 
that she drew out my tongue and snipped the end 
with her scissors till the blood ran. That was terrible? 
you may believe, but it did me much good, because it 
was sore for days, and every word I said came so slowly 
that I had time to think. After that I was more care- 
ful, and got on better, for I feared the big scissors. 
Yet the dear grandmother was most kind to me in all 
things, and when she lay dying far away in Nuremberg, 
she prayed that little Fritz might love God and tell the 
truth." 

" I never had any grandmothers, but if you think it 
will cure me, I '11 let you snip my tongue," said Nat 
heroically, for he dreaded pain, yet did wish to stop 
fibbing. 

Mr. Bhaer smiled, but shook his head. 

" I have a better way than that, I tried it once before 
and it worked well. See now, when you tell a lie I 
will not punish you, but you shall punish me." 

" How ? " asked Nat, startled at the idea. 

" You shall ferule me in the good old-fashioned way ; 
I seldom do it myself, but it may make you remember 
better to give me pain than to feel it yourself." 

" Strike you ? Oh, I couldn't ! " cried Nat. 

" Then mind that tripping tongue of thine. I have 
no wish to be hurt, but I would gladly bear much pain 
to cure this fault." 

This suggestion made such an impression on Nat, 



STEPPING-STONES. 61 

that for a long time he set a watch upon his lips, and 
was desperately accurate, for Mr. Bhaer judged rightly, 
that love of him would be more powerful with Nat than 
fear for himself. But alas ! one sad day Nat was off 
his guard, and when peppery Emil threatened to thrash 
him, if it was he who had run over his garden and 
broken down his best hills of corn, Nat declared he 
didn't, and then was ashamed to own up that he did do 
it, when Jack was chasing him the night before. 

He thought no one would find it out, but Tommy 
happened to see him, and when Emil spoke of it a day 
or two later, Tommy gave his evidence, and Mr. Bhaer 
heard it. School was over, and they were all standing 
about in the hall, and Mr. Bhaer had just sat down on 
the straw settee, to enjoy his frolic with Teddy ; but 
when he heard Tommy, and saw Nat turn scarlet, and 
look at him with a frightened face, he put the little boy 
down, saying, " Go to thy mother, biibchen, I will come 
soon," and taking Nat by the hand led him into the 
school, and shut the door. 

The boys looked at one another in silence for a 
minute, then Tommy slipped out and peeping in at the 
half-closed blinds, beheld a sight that quite bewildered 
him. Mr Bhaer had just taken down the long rule that 
hung over his desk, so seldom used that it was covered 
with dust. 

" My eye ! he 's going to come down heavy on Nat 
this time. Wish I hadn't told," thought good-natured 
Tommy, for to be feruled was the deepest disgrace at 
this school. 

" You remember what I told you last time ? '" said 
Mr. Bhaer, sorrowiully, not angrily. 



62 LITTLE MEN. 

" Yes ; but please don't make me, I can't bear it," 
cried Nat, backing up against the door with both hands 
behind him, and a face full of distress. 

" Why don't he up and take it like a man ? I 
would," thought Tommy, though his heart beat fast at 
the sight. 

" I shall keep my word, and you must remember to 
tell the truth. Obey me, Nat, take this and give me 
six good strokes." 

Tommy was so staggered by this last speech that he 
nearly tumbled down the bank, but saved himself, and 
hung on to the window ledge, staring in with eyes as 
round as the stuffed owl's on the chimney-piece. 

Nat took the rule, for when Mr. Bhaer spoke in that 
tone every one obeyed him, and, looking as scared and 
guilty as if about to stab his master, he gave two feeble 
blows on the broad hand held out to him. Then he 
stopped and looked up half-blind with tears, but Mr. 
Bhaer said steadily, 

" Go on, and strike harder." 

As if seeing that it must be done, and eager to have 
the hard task soon over, Nat drew his sleeve across his 
eyes and gave two more quick hard strokes that red- 
dened the hand, yet hurt the giver more. 

" Isn't that enough ? '' he asked in a breathless sort 
of tone. 

" Two more," was all the answer, and he gave them, 
hardly seeing where they fell, then threw the rule all 
across the room, and hugging the kind hand in both his 
own, laid his face down on it sobbing out in a passion 
of love, and shame, and penitence 

"I will remember! Oh! I will!" 



STEPPING-STONES. 63 

Then Mr. Bhaer put an arm about him, and said in a 
tone as compassionate as it had just now been firm 

" I think you will. Ask the dear God to help you, 
and try to spare us both another scene like this." 

Tommy saw no more, for he crept back to the hall, 
looking so excited and sober that the boys crowded 
round him to ask what was being done to Nat. 

In a most impressive whisper Tommy told them, and 
they looked as if the sky was about to fall, for this 
reversing the order of things almost took their breath 
away. 

" He made me do the same thing once," said Emil, 
as if confessing a crime of the deepest dye. 

" And you hit him ? dear old Father Bhaer ? By 
thunder, I 'd just like to see you do it now ! " said Ned, 
collaring Emil in a fit of righteous wrath. 

" It was ever so long ago. I 'd rather have my head 
cut off than do it now," and Emil mildly laid Ned on 
his back instead of cuffing him, as he would have felt it 
tis duty to do on any less solemn occasion. 

" How could you ? " said Demi, appalled at the idea. 

"I was hopping mad at the time, and thought I 
shouldn't mind a bit, rather like it perhaps. But when 
I 'd hit Uncle one good crack, every thing he had ever 
done for me came into my head all at once somehow, 
and I couldn't go on. No, sir ! if he 'd laid me down 
and walked on me, I wouldn't have minded, I felt so 
mean ; " and Emil gave himself a good thump in the 
chest to express his sense of remorse for the past. 

" Nat 's crying like any thing, and feels no end sorry, 
so don't let 's say a word about it ; will we ? r said 
tender-hearted Tommy. 



64 LITTLE MEJT. 

" Of course we won't, but it 's awful to tell lies," and 
Demi looked as if he found the awfulness much in- 
creased when the punishment fell not upon the sinner, 
but his best Uncle Fritz. 

" Suppose we all clear out, so Nat can cut up-stairs 
if he wants to," proposed Franz, and led the way to the 
barn, their refuge in troublous times. 

Nat did not come to dinner, but Mrs. Jo took some 
up to him, and said a tender word, which did him good, 
though he could not look at her. By and by the lads 
playing outside heard the violin, and said among them- 
selves : " He 's all right now." He was all right, but 
felt shy about going down, till, opening his door to slip 
away into the Avoods, he found Daisy sitting on the 
stairs with neither work nor doll, only her little hand- 
kerchief in her hand, as if she had been mourning for 
her captive friend. 

" I 'm going to walk ; want to come ? " asked Nat, 
trying to look as if nothing was the matter, yet feeling 
very grateful for her silent sympathy, because he fancied 
every one must look upon him as a wretch. 

" Oh yes ! " and Daisy ran for her hat, proud to be 
chosen as a companion by one of the big boys. 

The others saw them go, but no one followed, for 
boys have a great deal more delicacy than they get 
credit for, and the lads instinctively felt that, when in 
disgrace, gentle little Daisy was their most congenial 
friend. 

The walk did Nat good, and he came home quieter 
than usual, but looking cheerful again, and hung all over 
with daisy-chains, made by his little playmate while he 
lay on the grass and told her stories. 



STEPPING-STONES 65 

No one said a word about the scene of the morning, 
but its effect was all the more lasting for that reason, 
perhaps. Nat tried his very best, and found much help, 
not only from the earnest little prayers he prayed to 
his Friend in heaven, but also in the patient care of the 
earthly friend, whose kind hand he never touched with- 
out remembering that it had willingly borne Dain for 
his sake. 



CHAPTER Y 
PATTY PANS. 

"TT THAT'S the matter, Daisy?" 

V V The boys won't let me play with them ." 

"Why not?" 

" They say girls can't play foot-ball." 

" They can, for I 've done It ! " and Mrs. Bhaer 
laughed at the remembrance of certain youthful frolics. 

" I know I can play ; Demi and I used to, and have 
nice times, but he won't let me now because the other 
boys laugh at him," and Daisy looked deeply grieved at 
her brother's hardness of heart. 

" On the whoJe, I think lie is right ? deary. It - b ail 
very well when you two are alone, but it is too rough a 
game for you with a dozen boys ; so I M find some nice 
little play for myself." 

" I 'm tired of playing alone ! ' and Daisy's tone was 
very mournful. 

" I '11 play with you by and by, but just now 1 must 
fly about and get things ready for a trip into town. 
You shall go with me and see mamma, and if you like 
you can stay with her." 

" I should like to go and see her and baby Josy, but 
I 'd rather come back please. Demi would miss me, 
and I love to be here, Aunty." 



PATTY PANS. 67 

" You can't get on without your Derni, can you ? " 
and Aunt Jo looked as if she quite understood the love 
of the little girl for her only brother. 

" 'Course I can't ; we 're twins, and so we love each 
other more than other people," answered Daisy, with a 
brightening face, for she considered being a twin one of 
the highest honors she could ever receive. 

" Now, what will you do with your little self while I 
fly round ? asked Mrs. Bhaer, who was whisking piles 
of linen into a wardrobe with great rapidity. 

" I don't know, I 'm tired of dolls and things ; I wish. 
you 'd make up a new play for me, Aunty Jo," said 
Daisy, swinging listlessly on the door. 

" I shall have to think of a bran new one, and it will 
take me some time ; so suppose you go down and see 
what Asia has got for your lunch," suggested Mrs. 
Bhaer, thinking that would be a good way in which to 
dispose of the little hindrance for a time. 

" Yes, I think I 'd like that, if she isn't cross," and 
Daisy slowly departed to the kitchen, where Asia, the 
black cook, reigned undisturbed. 

In five minutes Daisy was back again, with a wide- 
awake face, a bit of dough in her hand and a dab of 
flour on her little nose. 

" O Aunty ! please could I go and make gingersnaps 
and things ? Asia isn't cross, and she says I may, and 
it would be such fun, please do," cried Daisy, all in one 
breath. 

" Just the thing, go and welcome, make what you like, 
and stay as long as you please," answered Mrs. Bhaer, 
much relieved, for sometimes the one little girl was 
harder to amuse than the dozen boys. 



68 LITTLE MEN. 

Daisy ran off, and while she worked, Aunt Jo racked 
her brain for a new play. All of a sudden she seemed 
to have an idea, for she smiled to herself slammed the 
doors of the wardrobe, and walked briskly away, say- 
ing, " I '11 do it, if it 's a possible thing ! ' 

What it was no one found out that day, but Aunt 
Jo's eyes twinkled so when she told Daisy she had 
thought of a new play, and was going to buy it, that 
Daisy was much excited and asked questions all the 
way into town, without getting answers that told her 
any thing. She was left at home to play with the new 
baby, and delight her mother's eyes, while Aunt Jo 
went off shopping. When she came back with all sorts 
of queer parcels in corners of the carry-all, Daisy was 
so full of curiosity, that she wanted to go back to Plum- 
field at once. But her aunt would not be hurried, and 
made a long call in mamma's room, sitting on the floor 
with baby in her lap, making Mrs. Brooke laugh at the 
pranks of the boys, and all sorts of droll nonsense. 

How her aunt told the secret Daisy could not imagine, 
but her mother evidently knew it, for she said, as she 
tied on the little bonnet and kissed the rosy little face 
inside, " Be a good child, my Daisy, and learn the nice 
new play Aunty has got for you. It's a most useful 
and interesting one, and it is very kind of her to play 
it with you, because she does not like it very well her= 
self. " 

This last speech made the two ladies laugh heartily, 
and increased Daisy's bewilderment. As they drove 
nway something rattled in the back of the carriage. 

" What 's that ? " asked Daisy, pricking up her ears. 

" The new play," answered Mrs. Jo, solemnly. 



PATTY PANS. 69 

<{ What is it made of ? " cried Daisy. 

" Iron, tin, wood, brass, sugar, salt, coal, and a hun- 
dred other things." 

" How strange ! what color is it ? " 

" All sorts of colors." 

"Is it large?" 

" Part of it is, and a part isn't." 

" Did I ever see one ? " 

" Ever so many, but never one so nice as this." 

" Oh ! what can it be ? I can't wait. When shall I 
Bee it ? " and Daisy bounced up and down with impa- 
tience. 

" To-morrow morning, after lessons." 

" Is it for the boys too ? " 

" No, all for you and Bess. The boys will like to see 
it, and want to play one part of it. But you can do as 
you like about letting them." 

" I '11 let Demi, if he wants to." 

" No fear that they won't all want to, especially 
Stuffy," and Mrs. Bhaer's eyes twinkled more than 
ever, as she patted a queer knobby bundle in her lap. 

" Let me feel just once," prayed Daisy. 

" Not a feel ; you 'd guess in a minute and spoil the 
fun." 

Daisy groaned and then smiled all over her face, for 
through a little hole in the paper she caught a glimpse 
of something bright. 

"How can I wait so long? Couldn't I see it to- 
day ? " 

" Oh dear, no ! it has got to be arranged, and ever so 
many parts fixed in their places. I promised Uncle 
Teddy that you shouldn't see it till it was all in apple- 
pie order." 



70 LITTLE MEN. 

" If Uncle knows about it then it must be splendid ! " 
cried Daisy, clapping her hands ; for this kind, rich, 
jolly uncle of hers was as good as a fairy god-niother 
to the children, and was always planning merry sur- 
prises, pretty gifts, and droll amusements for them. 

" Yes ; Teddy went and bought it with me, and we 
had such fun in the shop choosing the different parts, 
He would have every thing fine and large, and my 
little plan got regularly splendid when he took hold. 
You must give him your very best kiss when he comes, 
for he is the kindest uncle that ever went and bought a 

charming little coo Bless me ! I nearly told you 

what it was ! " and Mrs. Bhaer cut that most interesting 
word short off in the middle, and began to look over 
her bills as if afraid she would let the cat out of the 
bag if she talked any more. Daisy folded her hands 
with an air of resignation, and sat quite still trying to 
think what play had a " coo " in it. 

When they got home she eyed every bundle that was 
taken out, and one large heavy one, which Franz took 
straight up-stairs and hid in the nursery, filled her with 
amazement and curiosity. Something very mysterious 
went on up there that afternoon, for Franz was ham- 
mering, and Asia trotting up and down, and Aunt Jo 
flying around like a will-o'-the-wisp, with all sorts of 
things under her apron, while little Ted, who was the 
only child admitted, because he couldn't talk plain, 
babbled and laughed, and tried to tell what the " sum- 
pin pitty " was. 

All this made Daisy half wild, and her excitement 
spread among the boys, who quite overwhelmed Mother 
Bhaer with oifers of assistance, which she declined by 
Quoting their own words to Daisy 



PATTY PANS. 71 

* Girls can't pla^ with boys. This is for D&isj, and 
Bess, and me, so we don't want you." Whereupon the 
young gentlemen meekly retired, and invited Daisy to 
a game of marbles, horse, foot-ball, any thing she liked, 
with a sudden warmth and politeness which astonished 
her innocent little soul. 

Thanks to these attentions, she got through the after- 
noon, went early to bed, and next morning did her 
lessons with an energy which made Uncle Fritz wish 
that a new game could be invented every day. Quite 
a thrill pervaded the school-room when Daisy was dis- 
missed at eleven o'clock, for every one knew that now 
she was going to have the new and mysterious play. 

Many eyes followed her as she ran away, and Demi's 
mind was so distracted by this event that when Franz 
sked him where the desert of Sahara was, he mourn- 
fully replied, " In the nursery," and the whole school 
laughed at him. 

" Aunt Jo, I 've done all my lessons, and I can't 
wait one single minute more ! " cried Daisy, flying into 
Mrs. Bhaer's room. 

"It's all ready, como on;" and tucking Ted under 
one arm, and her work-basket under the other, Aunt Jo 
promptly led the way up-stairs. 

" I don't see any thing," said Daisy, staring about 
her as she got inside the nursery door. 

" Do you hear any thing ? " asked Aunt Jo, catching 
Ted back by his little frock as he was making straight 
for one side of the room. 

Daisy did hear an odd crackling, and then a purry 
little sound as of a kettle singing. These noises came 
from behind a curtain drawn before a deep bay win- 



72 LITTLE MEN. 

dow. Daisy snatched it back, gave one joyful " Oh ! " 
and then stood gazing with delight at what do you 
think? 

A wide seat ran round the three sides of the win- 
dow ; on one side hung and stood all sorts of little pots 
and pans, gridirons, and skillets ; on the other side s 
small dinner and tea set, and on the middle part a 
cooking-stove. Not a tin one, that was of no use, but 
a real iron stove, big enough to cook for a large family 
of very hungry dolls. But the best of it was that a 
real fire burned in it, real steam came out of the nose 
of the little tea-kettle, and the lid of the little boiler 
actually danced a jig, the water inside bubbled so hard. 
A pane of glass had been taken out and replaced by a 
sheet of tin, with a hole for the small funnel, and real 
smoke went sailing away outside so naturally, that it 
did one's heart good to see it. The box of wood with 
a hod of charcoal stood near by ; just above hung dust- 
pan, brush and broom ; a little market basket was on 
the low table at which Daisy used to play, and over the 
back of her little chair hung a white apron with a bib, 
and a droll mob cap. The sun shone in as if he enjoyed 
the fun, the little stove roared beautifully, the kettle 
steamed, the new tins sparkled on the walls, the pretty 
china stood in tempting rows, and it was altogether as 
cheery and complete a kitchen as any child could desire, 

Daisy stood quite still after the first glad " Oh ! " but 
her eyes went quickly from one charming object to an- 
other, brightening as they looked, till they came to 
Aunt Jo's merry face ; there they stopped as the happy 
little girl hugged her, saying gratefully 

" O Aunty, it 's a splendid new play ! can I really 



PATTY PANS. 73 

cook at the dear stove, and have parties and mess, and 
sweep, and make fires that truly burn ? I like it so 
much ! What made you think of it ? " 

" Your liking to make gingersnaps with Asia made 
me think of it," said Mrs. Bhaer, holding Daisy, who 
frisked as if she would fly. " I knew Asia wouldn't let 
you mess in her kitchen very often, and it wouldn't be 
safe at this fire up here, so I thought I 'd see if I could 
find a little stove for you, and teach you to cook ; that 
would be fun, and useful too. So I travelled round 
among the toy shops, but every thing large cost too 
much and I was thinking I should have to give it up, 
when I met Uncle Teddy. As soon as he knew what 
I was about, he said he wanted to help, and insisted on 
buying the biggest toy stove we could find. I scolded, 
but he only laughed, and teased me about my cooking 
when we were young, and said I must teach Bess a 
well as you, and went on buying all sorts of nice little 
things for my ' cooking class ' as he called it." 

" I 'm so glad you met him ! " said Daisy, as Mrs. Jo 
stopped to laugh at the memory of the funny time she 
had with Uncle Teddy. 

" You must study hard and learn to make all kinds 
of things, for he says he shall come out to tea very 
often, and expects something uncommonly nice." 

" It 's the sweetest, dearest kitchen in the world, and 
I 'd rather study with it than do any thing else. Can't 
I learn pies, and cake, and maccaroni, and every thing ? " 
cried Daisy, dancing round the room with a new sauce- 
pan in one hand and the tiny poker in the other. 

" All in good time. This is to be a useful play, I am 
to help you, and you are to be my cook, so I shall tell 



74 LITTLE MEN. 

you what to do, and show you how. Then we shall 
have things fit to eat, and you will be really learning 
how to cook on a small scale. I '11 call you Sally, and 
say you are a new girl just come," added Mrs. Jo, set- 
tling down to work, while Teddy sat on the floor suck- 
ing his thumb, and staring at the stove as if it was a 
live thing, whose appearance deeply interested him. 

"That will be so lovely! What shall I do first?" 
asked Sally, with such a happy face and willing air that 
Aunt Jo wished all new cooks were half as pretty and 
pleasant. 

" First of all, put on this clean cap and apron. I am 
rather old-fashioned, and I like my cook to be very 

tidy." 

Sally tucked her curly hair into the round cap, and 
put on the apron without a murmur, though usually she 
rebelled against bibs. 

" Now, you can put things in order, and wash up the 
new china. The old set needs washing also, for my last 
girl was apt to leave it in a sad state after a party." 

Aunt Jo spoke quite soberly, but Sally laughed, for 
she knew who the untidy girl was who had left the cups 
sticky. Then she turned up her cuffs, and with a sigh 
of satisfaction began to stir about her kitchen, having 
little raptures now and then over the " sweet rolling- 
pin," the " darling dish-tub," or the " cunning pepper- 
pot." 

"Now, Sally, take your basket and go to market; 
here is the list of things I want for dinner," said Mrs. 
Jo, giving her a bit of paper when the dishes were all 
in order. 

" Where is the market ? " asked Daisy, thinking that 



PATTY PANS. 75 

the new play got more and more interesting every 
minute. 

" Asia is the market." 

Away went Sally, causing another stir in the school- 
room as she passed the door in her new costume, and 
whispered to Demi, with a face full of delight " It 's 
a perfectly splendid play ! " 

Old Asia enjoyed the joke as much as Daisy, and 
laughed jollily as the little girl came flying into the 
room with her cap all on one side, the lids of her basket 
rattling like castanets, and looking like a very crazy 
little cook. 

" Mrs. Aunt Jo wants these things, and I must have 
them right away," said Daisy, importantly. 

" Let 's see, honey ; here 's two pounds of steak, pota- 
toes, squash, apples, bread, and butter. The meat ain't 
come yet; when it does I'll send it up. The other 
things are all handy." 

Then Asia packed one potato, one apple, a bit of 
squash, a little pat of butter, and a roll, into the basket, 
telling Sally to be on the watch for the butcher's boy, 
because he sometimes played tricks. 

" Who is he ? " and Daisy hoped it would be Demi. 

" You '11 see," was all Asia would say ; and Sally went 
off in great spirits, singing a verse from dear Mary 
Howitt's sweet story in rhyme, 

" Away went little Mabel, 

With the wheaten cake so fine, 
The new made pot of butter, 
And the little flask of wine." 

" Put every thing but the apple into the store-closet 
for the present," said Mrs. Jo, when the cook got home. 



76 LITTLE MEN. 

There was a cupboard under the middle shelf, and 
on opening the door fresh delights appeared. One half 
was evidently the cellar, for wood, coal, and kindlings 
were piled there. The other half was full of little jars, 
boxes, and all sorts of droll contrivances for holding 
small quantities of flour, meal, sugar, salt, and other 
household stores. A pot of jam was there, a little tin 
box of gingerbread, a cologne bottle full of currant 
wine, and a tiny canister of tea. But the crowning 
charm was two doll's pans of new milk, with cream 
actually rising on it, and a wee skimmer all ready to 
skim it with. Daisy clasped her hands at this delicious 
spectacle, and wanted to skim immediately. But Aunt 
Jo said 

" Not yet ; you will want the cream to eat on your 
apple-pie at dinner, and must not disturb it till then." 

" Am I going to haA^e pie ? " cried Daisy, hardly be- 
lieving that such bliss could be in store for her. 

O 

" Yes ; if your oven does well we will have two pies. 
one apple and one strawberry," said Mrs. Jo, who 
was nearly as much interested in the new play as Daisy 
herself. 

"Oh, what next?" asked Sally, all impatience to 
begin. 

" Shut the lower draught of the stove, so that the oven 
may heat. Then wash your hands and get out the 
flour, sugar, salt, butter, and cinnamon. See if the pie- 
i&oard is clean, and pare your apple ready to put in." 

Daisy got things together with as little noise and 
spilling as could be expected, from so young a cook. 

" I really don't know how to measure for such tiny 
pies ; I must guess at it, and if these don't succeed, we 



PATTY PANS. 77 

must try again," said Mrs. Jo, looking rather perplexed, 
and very much amused with the small concern before 
her. " Take that little pan full of flour, put in a pinch 
of salt, and then rub in as much butter as will go on 
that plate. Always remember to put your dry things 
together first, and then the wet. It mixes better so." 

" I know how ; I saw Asia do it. Don't I butter the 
pie plates too ? She did, the first thing," said Daisy, 
whisking the flour about at a great rate. 

" Quite right ! I do believe you have a gift for cook- 
mg, you take to it so cleverly," said Aunt Jo, approv- 
ingly. "Now a dash of cold water, just enough to wet 
it ; then scatter some flour on the board, work in a lit- 
tle, and roll the paste out ; yes, that 's the way. Now 
put dabs of butter all over it, and roll it out again. 
We won't have our pastry very rich, or the dolls will 
get dyspeptic." 

Daisy laughed at the idea, and scattered the dabs 
with a liberal hand. Then she rolled and rolled with 
her delightful little pin, and having got her paste ready 
proceeded to cover the plates with it. Next the apple 
was sliced in, sugar and cinnamon lavishly sprinkled 
over it, and then the top crust put on with breathless 
care. 

" I always wanted to cut them round, and Asia never 
Would let me. How nice it is to do it all my ownty 
donty self," said Daisy, as the little knife went clipping 
round the doll's plate poised on her hand. 

All cooks, eyen the best, meet with mishaps some- 
times, and Sally's first one occurred then, for the knife 
went so fast that the plate slipped, turned a somersault 
in the air, and landed the dear little pie upside down 



78 LITTLE MEN. 

on the floor. Sally screamed, Mrs. Jo laughed, Teddy 
scrambled to get it, and for a moment confusion reigned 
in the new kitchen. 

" It didn't spill or break, because I pinched the edges 
together so hard ; it isn't hurt a bit, so I '11 prick holes 
in it, and then it will be ready," said Sally, picking up 
the capsized treasure and putting it into shape with a 
child-like disregard of the dust it had gathered in its 
fall. 

" My new cook has a good temper I see, and that is 
such a comfort," said Mrs. Jo. " Now open the jar of 
strawberry jam, fill the uncovered pie, and put some 
strips of paste over the top as Asia does." 

" I '11 make a D in the middle, and have zigzags all 
round, that will be so interesting when I come to eat 
it," said Sally, loading her pie with quirls and flourishes 
that would have driven a real pastry cook wild. "JVow 
I put them in ! ' : she exclaimed ; when the last grimy 
knob had been carefully planted in the red field of jam, 
and with an air of triumph she shut them into the little 
oven. 

" Clear up your things ; a good cook never lets her 
utensils collect. Then pare your squash and potatoes." 

" There is only one potato," giggled Sally. 

" Cut it in four pieces, so it will go into the little 
kettle, and put the bits into cold water till it is time t<? 
cook them." 

" Do I soak the squash too ? " 

" No, indeed ! just pare it and cut it up, and put it 
into the steamer over the pot. It is drier so, though it 
takes longer to cook." 

Here a scratching at the door caused Sally to run and 



PATTY PANS. 79 

open it, when Kit appeared with a covered basket in his 
mouth. 

" Here 's the butcher's boy ! ' cried Daisy, much 
tickled at the idea, as she relieved him of his load, 
whereat he licked his lips and began to beg, evidently 
thinking that it was his own dinner, for he often carried 
it to his master in that way. Being undeceived, he 
departed in great wrath and barked all the way down- 
stairs, to ease his wounded feelings. 

In the basket were two bits of steak (doll's pounds), 
a baked pear, a small cake, and paper with them on 
which Asia had scrawled, " For Missy's lunch, if her 
cookin' don't turn out well." 

" I don't want any of her old pears and things ; my 
cooking will turn out well, and I '11 have a splendid din- 
ner ; see if I don't ! " cried Daisy, indignantly. 

" We may like them if company should come. It is 
always well to have something in the store-room," said 
Aunt Jo, who had been taught this valuable fact by a 
series of domestic panics. 

"Me is hundry," announced Teddy, who began to 
think what with so much cooking going on it was about 
time for somebody to eat something. His mother gave 
him her work-basket to rummage, hoping to keep him quiet 
till dinner was ready, and returned to her housekeeping., 

" Put on your vegetables, set the table, and then have 
gome coals kindling ready for the steak." 

What a thing it was to see the potatoes bobbing 
about in the little pot ; to peep at the squash getting 
eoft so fast in the tiny steamer ; to whisk open the oven 
door every five minutes to see how the pies got on, and 
at last when the coals were red and glowing, to put 



80 LITTLE MEN. 

two real steaks on a finger-long gridiron and proudly 
turn them with a fork. The potatoes were done first, 
and no wonder, for they had boiled frantically all the 
while. They were pounded up with a little pestle, had 
much butter and no salt put in (cook forgot it in the 
excitement of the moment), then it was made into a 
mound in a gay red dish, smoothed over with a knife 
dipped in milk, and put in the oven to brown. 

So absorbed in these last performances had Sally 
been, that she forgot her pastry till she opened the door 
to put in the potato, then a wail arose, for, alas ! alas ! 
the little pies were burnt black! 

" Oh, my pies ! my darling pies ! they are all spoilt !" 
cried poor Sally, wringing her dirty little hands as she 
surveyed the ruin of her work. The tart was especially 
pathetic, for the quirls and zigzags stuck up in all 
directions from the blackened jelly, like the walls and 
thimney of a house after a fire. 

" Dear, dear, I forgot to remind you to take them out; 
it 's just my luck," said Aunt Jo, remorsefully. " Don't 
cry, darling, it was my fault ; we '11 try again after din- 
ner," she added, as a great tear dropped from Sally's 
eyes and sizzled on the hot ruins of the tart. 

More would have followed, if the steak had not 
blazed up just then, and so occupied the attention of 
cook, that she quickly forgot the lost pastry. 

" Put the meat-dish and your own plates down to 
warm, while you mash the squash with butter, salt, 
and a little pepper on the top," said Mrs. Jo, devoutly 
hoping that the dinner would meet with no further 
disasters. 

The " cunning pepper-pot " soothed Sally's feelings, 



PATTY PANS. 81 

and she dished up her squash in fine style. The dinner 
was safely put upon the table ; the six dolls were seated 
three on a side ; Teddy took the bottom, and Sally the 
top. When all were settled, it was a most imposing 
spectacle, for one doll was in full ball costume, another 
in her night-gown ; Jerry, the worsted boy, wore his 
red winter suit, while Annabella, the noseless darling, 
was airily attired in nothing but her own kid skin. 
Teddy, as father of the family, behaved with great 
propriety, for he smilingly devoured every thing offered 
him, and did not find a single fault. Daisy beamed 
upon her company like the weary, warm, but hospitable 
hostess, so often to be seen at larger tables than this, 
and did the honors with an air of innocent satisfaction, 
which we do not often see elsewhere. 

The steak was so tough, that the little carving-knife 
would not cut it ; the potato did not go round, and the 
squash was very lumpy ; but the guests appeared politely 
unconscious of these trifles ; and the master and mistress 
of the house cleared the table with appetites that any 
one might envy them. The joy of skimming a jug-full 
of cream mitigated the anguish felt for the loss of the 
pies, and Asia's despised cake proved a treasure in the 
way of dessert. 

" That is the nicest lunch I ever had ; can't I do it 
every day ? " asked Daisy as she scraped up and ate the 
leavings all round. 

" You can cook things every day after lessons, but I 
prefer that you should eat your dishes at your regular 
meals, and only have a bit of gingerbread for lunch. 
To-day, being the first time, I don't mind, but we must 
keep our rules. This afternoon you can make some- 



82 LITTLE MEN. 

thing for tea if you like," said Mrs. Jo, who had en- 
joyed the dinner-party very much, though no one had 
invited her to partake. 

" Do let me make flapjacks for Demi, he loves them 
so, and it 's such fun to turn them and put sugar in 
between," cried Daisy, tenderly wiping a yellow stain 
off Annabella's broken nose, for Bella had refused to 
eat squash when it was pressed upon her as good for 
"lumatism," a complaint which it is no wonder she 
suffered from, considering the lightness of her attire. 

" But if you give Demi goodies, all the others will 
expect some also, and then you will have your hands 
full." 

" Couldn't I have Demi come up to tea alone just this 
one time, and after that I could cook things for the 
others if they were good," proposed Daisy, with a 
sudden inspiration. 

" That is a capital idea, Posy ! We will make your 
little messes rewards for the good boys, and I don't 
know one among them who would not like something 
nice to eat more than almost any thing else. If little 
men are like big ones, good cooking will touch their 
hearts and soothe their tempers delightfully," added 
Aunt Jo, with a merry nod toward the door, where 
stood Papa Bhaer, surveying the scene with a face mil 
of amusement. 

" That last hit was for me, sharp woman. I accept 
it, for it is true ; but if I had married thee for thy cook- 
ing, heart's dearest, I should have fared badly all these 
years," answered the professor, laughing, as he tossed 
Teddy, who became quite apoplectic in his endeavors 
to describe the feast he had just enjoyed. 



PATTY PANS. 83 

Daisy proudly showed her kitchen, and rashly prom- 
ised Uncle Fritz as many flapjacks as he could eat. 
She was just telling about the new rewards when the 
boys, headed by Demi, burst into the room snuffing the 
air like a pack of hungry hounds, for school was out, 
dinner was not ready, and the fragrance of Daisy's steak 
led them straight to the spot. 

A prouder little damsel was never seen than Sally as 
she displayed her treasures and told the lads what was 
in store for them. Several rather scoffed at the idea of 
her cooking any thing fit to eat, but Stuffy's heart was 
won at once, Nat and Demi had firm faith in her skill, 
and the others said they would wait and see. All ad- 
mired the kitchen, however, and examined the stove 
with deep interest. Demi offered to buy the boiler on 
the spot, to be used in a steam-engine which he was 
constructing ; and Ned declared that the best and big- 
gest saucepan was just the thing to melt his lead in 
when he ran bullets, hatchets, and such trifles. 

Daisy looked so alarmed at these proposals, that Mrs. 
Jo then and there made and proclaimed a law that no 
boy should touch, use, or even approach the sacred 
stove without a special permit from the owner thereof. 
This increased its value immensely in the eyes of the 
gentlemen, especially as any infringement of the law 
would be punished by the forfeiture of all right to par- 
take of the delicacies promised to the virtuous. 

At this point the bell rang, and the entire population 
went down to dinner, which meal was enlivened by each 
of the boy's giving Daisy a list of things he would like 
to have cooked for him as fast as he earned them. 
Daisy, whose faith in her stove was unlimited, promised 



84 LITTLE MEN. 

every thing, if Aunt Jo would tell her how to make 
them. This suggestion rather alarmed Mrs. Jo, for 
some of the dishes were quite beyond her skill wed- 
ding-cake for instance, bull's-eye candy, and cabbage 
soup with herrings and cherries in it, which Mr. Bhaer 
proposed as his favorite, and immediately reduced his 
wife to despair, for German cookery was beyond her. 

Daisy wanted to begin again the minute dinner was 
done, but she was only allowed to clear up, fill the 
kettle ready for tea, and wash out her apron, which 
looked as if she had cooked a Christmas feast. She was 
then sent out to play till five o'clock, for Uncle Fritz 
said that too much study, even at cooking stoves, was 
bad for little minds and bodies, and Aunt Jo knew by 
long experience how soon new toys lose their charm if 
they are not prudently used. 

Every one was very kind to Daisy that afternoon. 
Tommy promised her the first fruits of his garden, 
though the only visible crop just then was pigweed ; 
Nat offered to supply her with wood, free of charge ; 
Stuffy quite worshipped her ; Ned immediately fell to 
work on a little refrigerator for her kitchen ; and Demi, 
with a punctuality beautiful to see in one so young, 
escorted her to the nursery just as the clock struck five. 
It was not time for the party to begin, but he begged 
so hard to come in and help that he was allowed privi- 
leges few visitors enjoy, for he kindled the fire, ran 
errands, and watched the progress of his supper with 
intense interest. Mrs. Jo directed the affair as she came 
and went, being very busy putting up clean curtains all 
over the house. 

" Ask Asia for a cup of sour cream, then your cakes 



PATTY PANS. 85 

will be light without much soda, which I don't like," 
was the first order. 

Demi tore down-stairs, and returned with the cream, 
also a puckered-up face, for he had tasted it on his way, 
and found it so sour that he predicted the cakes would 
be uneatable. Mrs. Jo took this occasion to deliver a 
short lecture from the step-ladder on the chemical prop- 
erties of soda, to which Daisy did not listen, but Demi 
did, and understood it, as he proved by the brief but 
comprehensive reply 

" Yes, I see, soda turns sour things sweet, and the 
fizzling up makes them light. Let 's see you do it, 
Daisy." 

" Fill that bowl nearly full of flour and add a little 
salt to it," continued Mrs. Jo. 

" Oh dear, every thing has to have salt in it, seems to 
me," said Sally, who was tired of opening the pill-box 
in which it was kept. 

" Salt is like good-humor, and nearly every thing is 
better for a pinch of it, Posy," and Uncle Fritz stopped 
as he passed, hammer in hand, to drive up two or three 
nails for Sally's little pans to hang on. 

" You are not invited to tea, but I '11 give you some 
cakes, and I won't be cross," said Daisy, putting up her 
floury little face to thank him with a kiss. 

" Fritz, you must not interrupt my cooking class, or 
I '11 come in and moralize when you are teaching Latin. 
How would you like that ? " said Mrs. Jo, throwing a 
great chintz curtain down on his head. 

" Very much, try it and see," and the amiable Father 
Bhaer went singing and tapping about the house like a 
mammoth woodpecker. 



86 LITTLE MEN. 

" Put the soda into the cream, and when it ' fizzles ' 
as Demi says, stir it into the flour, and beat it up as 
hard as ever you can. Have your griddle hot, batter 
it well, and then fry away till I come back," and Aunt 
Jo vanished also. 

Such a clatter as the little spoon made, and such a 
beating as the batter got, it quite foamed I assure you ; 
and when Daisy poured some on to the griddle, it rose 
like magic into a puffy flapjack, that made Demi's 
mouth water. To be sure the first one stuck and 
scorched, because she forgot the butter, but after that 
first failure all went well, and six capital little cakes 
were safely landed in a dish. 

" I think I 'd like maple-syrup better than sugar," 
said Demi from his arm-chair, where he had settled 
himself after setting the table in a new and peculiar 
manner. 

" Then go and ask Asia for some," answered Daisy, 
going into the bath-room to w r ash her hands. 

While the nursery was empty something dreadful 
happened. You see, Kit had been feeling hurt all day 
because he had earned meat safely and yet got none to 
pay him. He was not a bad dog, but he had his little 
faults like the rest of us, and could not always resist 
temptation. Happening to stroll into the nursery at 
that moment, he smelt the cakes, saw them unguarded 
on the low table, and never stopping to think of conse- 
quences, swallowed all six at one mouthful. I am glad 
to say that they were very hot, and burned him so 
badly that he could not repress a surprised yelp. Daisy 
heard it, ran in, saw the empty dish, also the end of 
a yellow tail disappearing under the bed. Without a 



PATTY PANS. 87 

word she seized that tail, pulled out the thief, and shook 
him till his ears flapped wildly, then bundled him 
down-stairs to the shed, where he spent a lonely even- 
ing in the coal-bin. 

Cheered by the sympathy which Demi gave her, 
Daisy made another bowl full of batter, and fried a 
dozen cakes, which were even better than the others. 
Indeed, Uncle Fritz after eating two sent up word that 
he had never tasted any so nice, and every boy at the 
table below envied Demi at the flapjack party above. 

It was a truly delightful supper, for the little teapot 
lid only fell off three times, and the milk jug upset but 
once ; the cakes floated in syrup, and the toast had a 
delicious beef-steak flavor, owing to cook's using the 
gridiron to make it on. Demi forgot philosophy, and 
stuffed like any carnal boy, while Daisy planned sumptu- 
ous banquets, and the dolls looked on smiling affably. 

" Well, dearies, have you had a good time ? " asked 
Mrs. Jo, coming up with Teddy on her shoulder. 

" A very good time. I shall come again soon" 
answered Demi, with emphasis. 

" I 'm afraid you have eaten too much, by the look of 
that table." 

" No, I haven't, I only ate fifteen cakes, and they 
were very little ones," protested Demi, who had kept 
his sister busy supplying his plate. 

" They won't hurt him, they are so nice," said Daisy, 
with such a funny mixture of maternal fondness, and 
housewifely pride, that Aunt Jo could only smile, and 
say 

" Well, on the whole, the new game is a success 
then ? " 



LITTLE MEN. 



" I like it," said Demi, as if his approval was all that 
was necessary. 

" It is the dearest play ever made ! " cried Daisy, 
hugging her little dish-tub as she proposed to wash up 
the cups. " I just wish everybody had a sweet cooking 
stove like mine," she added, regarding it with affection. 

" This play ought to have a name," said Demi, gravely 
removing the syrup from his countenance with his 
tongue, 

" It has." 

" Oh, what ? " asked both children, eagerly. 

" Well, I think we will call it Patty-pans," and Aunt 
Jo retired, satisfied with the success of her last trap to 
catch a sunbeam. 



CHAPTER VI. 

A FIRE BRAND. 

K "TJLEASE, ma'am, could I speak to you ? It is some- 
thing very important," said Nat, popping his 
head in at the door of Mrs. Bhaer's room. 

It was the fifth head which had popped in during 
the last half-hour ; but Mrs. Jo was used to it, so she 
looked up, and said briskly 

"What is it, my lad?" 

Nat came in, shut the door carefully behind him, and 
said in an eager, anxious tone 

" Dan has come." 

"Who is Dan?" 

" He 's a boy I used to know when I fiddled round 
the streets. He sold papers, and he was kind to 
and I saw him the other day in town, and told 
how nice it was here, and he 's come." 

" But, my dear boy, that is rather a sudden way to 
pay a visit." 

" Oh, it isn't a visit, he wants to stay if you will let 
him ! " said Nat, innocently. 

"Well, but I don't know about that," began Mrs. 
Bhaer, rather startled by the coolness of the propo^i- 
lion. 



90 LITTLE MEN. 

" Why, I thought you liked to have poor boys come 
and live with you, and be kind to 'em. as you were to 
me," said Nat, looking surprised and alarmed. 

" So I do, but I like to know something about them 
first. I have to choose them, because there are so 
many. I have not room for all. I wish I had." 

" I told him to come because I thought you 'd like it, 
but if there isn't room he can go away again," said 
Nat, sorrowfully. 

The boy's confidence in her hospitality touched Mrs. 
Bhaer, and she could not find the heart to disappoint 
his hope, and spoil his kind little plan, so she said 

" Tell me about this Dan." 

"I don't know any thing, only he hasn't got any 
folks, and he 's poor, and he was good to me, so I 'd 
like to be good to him if I could." 

" Excellent reasons every one ; but really, Nat, the 
house is full, and I don't know where I could put him," 
said Mrs. Bhaer, more and more inclined to prove her- 
self the haven of refuge he seemed to think her. 

" He could have my bed, and I could sleep in the 
barn. It isn't cold now, and I don't mind, I used to 
sleep anywhere with father," said Nat, eagerly. 

Something in his speech and face made Mrs. Jo put 
her hand on his shoulder, and say in her kindest tone : 

" Bring in your friend, Nat ; I think we must find 
room for him without giving him your place." 

Nat joyfully ran off, and soon returned followed by a 
most unprepossessing boy, who slouched in and stood 
looking about him, with a half bold, half sullen look, 
which made Mrs. Bhaer say to herself, after one glance : 

" A bad specimen, I am afraid." 



A FIRE BRAND. 91 

<* This is Dan," said Nat, presenting him as if sure of 
his welcome. 

" Nat tells me you would like to come and stay with 
us," began Mrs. Jo, in a friendly tone. 

" Yes," was the gruff reply. 

" Have you no friends to take care of you ? " 

No." 

" Say, 'No, ma'am,' " whispered Nat. 

" Shan't neither," muttered Dan. 

" How old are you ? " 

" About fourteen." 

" You look older. What can you do ?" 

" 'Most any thing." 

" If you stay here we shall want you to do as the 
others do, work and study as well as play. Are you 
willing to agree to that ? " 

" Don't mind trying." 

"Well, you can stay a few days, and we will see 
how we get on together. Take him out, Nat, and 
amuse him till Mr. Bhaer comes home, when we will 
settle about the matter," said Mrs. Jo, finding it rather 
difficult to get on with this cool young person, who 
fixed his big black eyes on her with a hard, suspicious 
expression, sorrowfully unboyish. 

" Come on, Nat," he said, and slouched out again. 

" Thank you, ma'am," added Nat, as he followed him, 
feeling without quite understanding the difference in the 
welcome given to him and to his ungracious friend. 

" The fellows are having a circus out in the barn ; 
don't you want to come and see it ? " he asked, as they 
came down the wide steps on to the lawn. 

"Are they big fellows?" said Dan. 



92 LITTLE MEN. 

" No ; the big ones are gone fishing." 

" Fire away then," said Dan. 

Nat led him to the great barn and introduced him to 
his set, who were disporting themselves among the half 
empty lofts. A large circle was marked out with hay 
on the wide floor, and in the middle stood Demi with 
a long whip, while Tommy, mounted on the much en- 
during Toby, pranced about the circle playing being a 
monkey. 

" You must pay a pin a-piece, or you can't see the 
show," said Stuffy, who stood by the wheel-barrow in 
which sat the band, consisting of a pocket-comb blown 
upon by Ned, and a toy drum beaten spasmodically by 
Rob. 

"He's company, so I'll pay for both," said Nat, 
handsomely, as he stuck two crooked pins in the dried 
mushroom which served as money-box. 

With a nod to the company they seated themselves 
on a couple of boards, and the performance went on. 
After the monkey act, Ned gave them a fine specimen 
of his agility by jumping over an old chair, and run- 
ing up and down ladders, sailor fashion. Then Demi 
danced a jig with a gravity beautiful to behold. Nat 
was called upon to wrestle with Stuffy, and speedily 
laid that stout youth upon the ground. After this, 
Tommy proudly advanced to turn a somersault, an ac- 
complishment which he had acquired by painful per- 
severance, practising in private till every joint of his 
little frame was black and blue. His feats were received 
with great applause, and he was about to retire, flushed 
with pride and a rush of blood to the head, when a 
scornful voice in the audience was heard to say 



A FIRE BRAND. 93 

Ho ! that ain't any thing ! " 

" Say that again, will you ? " and Tommy bristled up 
like an angry turkey-cock. 

" Do you want to fight," said Dan, promptly descend- 
ing from the barrel and doubling up his fists in a busi- 
ness-like manner. 

" No, I don't ; " and the candid Thomas retired a step, 
rather taken aback by the proposition. 

" Fighting isn't allowed ! r cried the others, much 
excited. 

" You 're a nice lot," sneered Dan. 

" Come, if you don't behave, you shan't stay," said 
Kat, firing up at that insult to his friends. 

"I'd like to see him do better than I did, that's all," 
observed Tommy, with a swagger. 

" Clear the way, then," and without the slightest 
preparation Dan turned three somersaults one after the 
other and came up on his feet. 

"You can't beat that, Tom; you always hit your 
head and tumble flat," said Nat, pleased at his friend* s 
success. 

Before he could say any more the audience were 
electrified by three more somersaults backwards, and a 
short promenade on the hands, head down, feet up. 
This brought down the house, and Tommy joined in 
the admiring cries which greeted the accomplished 
gymnast as he righted himself, and looked at them with 
an air of calm superiority. 

"Do you think I could learn to do it without its 
hurting me very much?" Tom meekly asked, as he 
rubbed the elbows which still smarted after the last 
attempt. 



94 LITTLE MEN. 

" What will you give me if I '11 teach you ? " said 
Dan. 

"My new jack-knife; it^s got five blades, and only 
one is broken." 

" Give it here then." 

Tommy handed it over with an affectionate look at 
its smooth handle. Dan examined it carefully, then 
putting it into his pocket, walked off, saying with a 
wink 

" Keep it up till you learn, that 's all." 

A howl of wrath from Tommy was followed by a 
general uproar, which did not subside till Dan, finding 
himself in a minority, proposed that they should play 
stick-knife, and whichever won should have the treasure. 
Tommy agreed, and the game was played in a circle of 
excited faces, which all wore an expression of satisfac- 
tion, when Tommy won and secured the knife in the 
depth of his safest pocket. 

" You come off with me, and I '11 show you round," 
said Nat, feeling that he must have a little serious con- 
versation with his friend in private. 

What passed between them no one knew T , but when 
they appeared again, Dan was more respectful to every 
one, though still gruff in his speech, and rough in his 
manner ; and what else could be expected of the poor 
lad who had been knocking about the world all his short 
life with no one to teach him any better ? 

The boys had decided that they did not like him, and 
so they left him to Nat, who soon felt rather oppressed 
by the responsibility, but was too kind-hearted to desert 
him. 

Tommy, however, felt that in spite of the jack-knife 



A FIRE BRAND. 95 

transaction, there was a bond of sympathy between 
them, and longed to return to the interesting subject of 
somersaults. He soon found an opportunity, for Dan, 
seeing how much he admired him, grew more amiable, 
and by the end of the first week was quite intimate 
with the lively Tom. 

Mr. Bhaer when he heard the story and saw Dan, 
shook his head, but only said quietly 

" The experiment may cost us something, but we will 
try it." 

If Dan felt any gratitude for his protection, he did 
not show it, and took without thanks all that was given 
him. He was ignorant, but very quick to learn when 
he chose ; had sharp eyes to watch what went on about 
him; a saucy tongue, rough manners, and a temper 
that was fierce and sullen by turns. He played with 
all his might, and played well at almost all the games. 
He was silent and gruff before grown people, and only 
now and then was thoroughly social among the lads. 
Few of them really liked him, but few could help 
admiring his courage and strength, for nothing daunted 
him, and he knocked tall Franz flat on one occasion 
with an ease that caused all the others to keep at a re- 
spectful distance from his fists. Mr. Bhaer watched 
him silently, and did his best to tame the " Wild Boy,' 7 
as they called him, but in private the worthy man 
shook his head, and said soberly, "I hope the experi- 
ment will turn out well, but I am a little afraid it 
may cost too much." 

Mrs. Bhaer lost her patience with him half a dozen 
times a day, yet never gave him up, and always insisted 
that there was something good in the lad after all ; for 



96 LITTLE MEN. 

he was kinder to animals than to people, he liked to 

rove about in the woods, and, best of all, little Ted 

vas fond of him. What the secret was no one could 

discover, but Babv took to him at once gabbled and 

t / cr> 

trowed whenever he saw him preferred his strong 
back to ride on to any of the others and called him 
" My Danny " out of his own little head. Teddy was 
the only creature to whom Dan showed any affection, 
and this was only manifested when he thought no one 
else could see it; but mothers' eyes are quick, and 
motherly hearts instinctively divine who love their 
babies. So Mrs. Jo soon saw and felt that there was 
a soft spot in rough Dan, and bided her time to 
touch and win him. 

But an unexpected and decidedly alarming event 
upset all their plans, and banished Dan from Plum- 
field. 

Tommy, Nat, and Demi began by patronizing Dan, 
because the other lads rather slighted him ; but soon 
they each felt there was a certain fascination about the 
bad boy, and from looking down upon him they came 
to looking up, each for a different reason. Tommy 
admired his skill and courage; Nat was grateful for 
past kindness; and Demi regarded him as a sort of 
animated story book, for when he chose Dan could tell 
his adventures in a most interesting way. It pleased 
Dan to have the three favorites like him, and he 
exerted himself to be agreeable, which was the secret 
of his success. 

The Bhaers were surprised, but hoped the lads would 
have a good influence over Dan, and waited with 
some anxiety, trusting that no harm would come of it. 



A FIRE BRAND. 97 

Dan felt they did not quite trust him, and never 
showed them his best side, but took a wilful pleasure 
in trying their patience and thwarting their hopes as 
far as he dared. 

Mr. Bhaer did not approve of fighting, and did not 
think it a proof of either manliness or courage for two 
Lads to pommel one another for the amusement of the 
rest. All sorts of hardy games and exercises were 
encouraged, and the boys were expected to take hard 
knocks and tumbles without whining; but black eyes 
and bloody noses given for the fun of it were for- 
bidden as a foolish and a brutal play. 

Dan laughed at this rule, and told such exciting tales 
of his own valor, and the many frays that he had 
been in, that some of the lads were fired with a desire 
to have a regular good "mill." 

" Don't tell, and I '11 show you how," said Dan ; and, 
getting half a dozen of the lads together behind the 
barn, he gave them a lesson in boxing, which quite 
satisfied the ardor of most of them. Emil, however, 
could not submit to be beaten by a fellow younger than 
himself, for Emil was past fourteen, and a plucky 
fellow, so he challenged Dan to a fight. Dan ac- 
cepted at once, and the others looked on with intense 
interest. 

What little bird carried the news to head-quarters 
no one ever knew, but, in the very hottest of the fray, 
when Dan and Emil were fighting like a pair of young 
bull-dogs, and the others with fierce, excited faces were 
cheering them on, Mr. Bhaer walked into the ring, 
plucked the combatants apart with a strong hand, and 
said, in the voice they seldom heard 

7 



98 LITTLE MEN. 

"I can't allow this, boys! Stop it at once; and 
never let me see it again. I keep a school for boys, 
not for wild beasts. Look at each other and be 
ashamed of yourselves." 

" You let me go, and I '11 knock him down again," 
shouted Dan, sparring away in spite of the grip on 
his collar. 

" Come on, come on, I ain't thrashed yet ! " cried 
Emil, who had been down five times, but did not know 
when he was beaten. 

"They are playing be gladdy what-you-call-'ems, 
like the Romans, Uncle Fritz," called out Demi, whose 
eyes were bigger than ever with the excitement of 
this new pastime. 

" They were a fine set of brutes ; but we have learned 
something since then I hope, and I cannot have you 
make my barn a Colosseum. Who proposed this?" 
asked Mr. Bhaer. 

"Dan," answered several voices. 

" Don't you know that it is forbidden ? " 

" Yes," growled Dan, sullenly. 

" Then why break the rule ? " 

" They '11 all be molly-coddles, if they don't know 
how to fight." 

" Have you found Emil a molly-coddle ? He doesn't 
look much like one," and Mr. Bhaer brought the two face 
to face. Dan had a black eye, and his jacket was torn 
to rags ; but Emil's face was covered with blood from a 
cut lip and a bruised nose, while a bump on his fore- 
head was already as purple as a plum. In spite of his 
wounds however, he still glared upon his foe, and evi- 
dently panted to renew the fight. 



A FIRE BRAND. 99 

" He 'd make a first-rater if he was taught," said Dan, 
unable tc withhold the praise from the boy who made 
it necessary for him to do his best. 

" He '11 be taught to fence and box by and by, and 
till then I think he will do very well without any les- 
sons in mauling. Go and wash your faces ; and remem- 
ber, Dan, if you break any more of the rules again, you 
will be sent away. That was the bargain ; do your part 
and we will do ours." 

The lads went off, and ^fter a few more words to the 
spectators, Mr. Bhaer followed to bind up the wounds 
of the young gladiators. Emil went to bed sick, and 
Dan was an unpleasant spectacle for a week. 

But the lawless lad had no thought of obeying, and 
soon transgressed again. 

One Saturday afternoon as a party of the boys went 
out to play, Tommy said 

" Let 's go down to the river, and cut a lot of new 
fish-poles." 

" Take Toby to drag them back, and one of us can 
ride him down," proposed Stuffy, who hated to walk. 

" That means you, I suppose ; well, hurry up, lazy- 
bones," said Dan. 

Away they went, and having got the poles were 
about to go home, when Demi unluckily said to Tommy, 
who was on Toby with a long rod in his hand 

" You look like the picture of the man in the bull- 
fight, only you haven't got a red cloth, or pretty clothes 



on." 



"I'd like to see one; wouldn't you?" said Tommy 
shaking his lance. 

" Let 's have one ; there 's old Buttercup in the big 



100 LITTLE MEN. 

meadow, ride at her Tom, and see her run," proposed 
Dan, bent on mischief. 

" No, you mustn't," began Demi, who was learning to 
distrust Dan's propositions. 

" Why not, little fuss-button ? " demanded Dan. 

" I don't think Uncle Fritz would like it." 

" Did he ever say we must not have a bull-fight ? " 

" No, I don't think he ever did," admitted Demi. 

" Then hold your tongue. Drive on, Tom, and here 's 
a red rag to nap at the old thing. I '11 help you to stir 
her up," and over the wall went Dan, full of the new 
game, and the rest followed like a flock of sheep ; even 
Demi, who sat upon the bars, and watched the fun with 
interest. 

Poor Buttercup was not in a very good mood, for she 
had been lately bereft of her calf, and mourned for the 
little thing most dismally. Just now she regarded all 
mankind as her enemies (and I do not blame her), so 
when the matadore came prancing towards her with the 
red handkerchief flying at the end of his long lance, 
she threw up her head, and gave a most appropriate 
" Moo ! " Tommy rode gallantly at her, and Toby re- 
cognizing an old friend, was quite willing to approach ; 
but when the lance came down on her back with a loud 
whack, both cow and donkey were surprised and dis- 
gusted. Toby backed with a bray of remonstrance, and 
Buttercup lowered her horns angrily. 

"At her again, Tom; she's jolly cross, and will do it 
capitally ! " called Dan, coming up behind with another 
rod, while Jack and Ned followed his example. 

Seeing herself thus beset, and treated with such disre- 
spect, Buttercup trotted round the field, getting more 



A FIRE BRAND. 101 

and more bewildered and excited every moment, for 
whichever way she turned, there was a dreadful boy, 
yelling and brandishing a new and very disagreeable 
sort of whip. It was great fun for them, but real 
misery for her, till she lost patience and turned the 
tables in the most unexpected manner. All at once she 
wheeled short round, and charged full at her old friend 
Toby, whose conduct cut her to the heart. Poor slow 
Toby backed so precipitately, that he tripped over a 
ritone, and down went horse, matadore, and all, in one 
ignominious heap, while distracted Buttercup took a 
surprising leap over the wall, and galloped wildly out 
of sigrht down the road. 

O 

" Catch her, stop her, head her off ! run, boys, run ! " 
shouted Dan, tearing after her at his best pace, for she 
was Mr. Bhaer's pet Alderney, and if any thing hap- 
pened to her, Dan feared it would be all over with him. 
Such a running and racing and bawling and puffing as 
there was before she was caught ! The fish-poles were 
left behind ; Toby was trotted nearly off his legs in the 
chase ; and every boy was red, breathless, and scared. 
They found poor Buttercup at last in a flower garden, 
where she had taken refuge, worn out with the long 
run. Borrowing a rope for a halter, Dan led her home, 
followed by a party of very sober young gentlemen, 
for the cow was in a sad state, having strained her 
shoulder in jumping, so that she limped, her eyes 
looked wild, and her glossy coat was wet and muddy. 

" You '11 catch it this time, Dan," said Tommy, as he 
led the wheezing donkey beside the maltreated cow. 

" So will you, for you helped." 

" We all did, but Demi," added Jack. 



102 LITTLE MEN. 

" He put it into our heads," said Ned. 

" I told you not to do it," cried Demi, who was mosi 
broken-hearted at poor Buttercup's state. 

" Old Bhaer will send me off, I guess. Don't care if 
he does," muttered Dan, looking worried in spite of 
his words. 

" We '11 ask him not to, all of us," said Demi, and 
the others assented with the exception of Stuffy, who 
cherished the hope that all the punishment might fall 
on one guilty head. Dan only said, "Don't bother 
about me ; " but he never forgot it, even though he led 
the lads astray again, as soon as the temptation came. 

When Mr. Bhaer saw the animal, and heard the 
story, he said very little, evidently fearing that he 
should say too much in the first moments of impa- 
tience. Buttercup was made comfortable in her stall, 
and the boys sent to their rooms till supper-time. This 
brief respite gave them time to think the matter over, 
to wonder what the penalty would be, and to try to 
imagine where Dan would be sent. He whistled brisk- 
ly in his room, so that no one should think he cared a 
bit ; but while he waited to know his fate, the longing 
to stay grew stronger and stronger, the more he re- 
called the comfort and kindness he had known here, 
the hardship and neglect he had felt elsewhere. He 
knew they tried to help him, and at the bottom of his 
heart he was grateful, but his rough life had made him 
hard and careless, suspicious and wilful. He hated re- 
straint of any sort, and fought against it like an untamed 
creature, even while he knew it was kindly meant, and 
dimly felt that he would be the better for it. He made 
up his mind to be turned adrift again, to knock about 



A FIEE BRAND. 105 

the city as he had done nearly all his life ; a prospect 
that made him knit his black brows, and look about the 
cosy little room with a wistful expression that would 
have touched a much harder heart than Mr. Bhaer's if 
he had seen it. It vanished instantly, however, when 
the good man came in, and said in his accustomed 
grave way 

"I have heard all about it, Dan, and though you 
have broken the rules again, I am going to give you 
one more trial, to please Mother Bhaer." 

Dan flushed up to his forehead at this unexpected 
reprieve, but he only said in his gruff way 

"I didn't know there was any rule about bull 
fighting." 

" As I never expected to have any at Plumfield, I 
never did make such a rule," answered Mr. Bhaer, smil- 
ing in spite of himself at the boy's excuse. Then he 
added gravely, " But one of the first and most impor- 
tant of our few laws is the law of kindness to every 
dumb creature on the place. I want everybody and 
every thing to be happy here, to love, and trust, and 
serve us, as we try to love and trust and serve them 
faithfully and willingly. I have often said that you 
were kinder to the animals than any of the other boys, 
and Mrs. Bhaer liked that trait in you very much, be- 
cause she thought it showed a good heart. But you 
have disappointed us in that, and we are sorry, for 
we hoped to make you quite one of us. Shall we try 
again ? " 

Dan's eyes had been on the floor, and his hands ner- 
vously picking at the bit of wood he had been whit- 
tling as Mr. Bhaer came in, but when he heard the kind 



104 LITTLE MEN. 

voice ask that question, he looked up quickly, and said 
in a more respectful tone than he had ever used be- 
fore 

" Yes, please." 

" Very well then, we will say no more, only you will 
stay at home from the walk to-morrow, as the other 
boys will, and all of you must wait on poor Buttercup 
till she is well again." 

I will." 

" Now, go down to supper, and do your best, my boy, 
more for your own sake than for ours." Then Mr. Bhaer 
shook hands with him, and Dan went down more tamed 
by kindness, than he would have been by the good 
whipping which Asia had strongly recommended. 

Dan did try for a day or two, but not being used to 
it, he soon tired and relapsed into his old wilful ways. 
Mr. Bhaer was called from home on business one day, 
and the boys had no lessons. They liked this, and 
played hard till bed-time, when most of them turned 
in and slept like dormice. Dan, however, had a plan 
in his head, and when he and Nat were alone, he un- 
folded it. 

" Look here ! '' he said, taking from under his bed a 
bottle, a cigar, and a pack of cards " I 'm going to have 
some fun, and do as I used to with the fellows in town. 
Here 's some beer, I got it of the old man at the station, 
and this cigar ; you can pay for 'em, or Tommy will, he 's 
got heaps of money, and I haven't a cent. I 'm going 
tG ask him in ; no, you go, they won't mind you." 

" The folks won't like it," began Nat. 

" They won't know. Daddy Bhaer is away, and Mrs. 
Bhaer's busy with Ted ; he 's got croup or something, 



A FIRE BRAND, 105 

and she can't leave him. We shan't sit up late or make 
any noise, so where 's the harm ? " 

"Asia will know if we burn the lamp long, she 
always does." 

" No, she won't, I 've got the dark lantern on pur- 
pose, it don't give much light, and we can shut it quick 
if we hear any one coming," said Dan. 

This idea struck Nat as a fine one, and lent an air of 
romance to the thing. He started off to tell Tommy, 
but put his head in again to say 

" You want Demi, too, don't you ? " 

"No, I don't; the Deacon will roll up eyes and 
preach if you tell him. He will be asleep, so just tip 
the wink to Tom and cut back again." 

Nat obeyed, and returned in a minute with* Tommy 
half dressed, rather tousled about the head and very 
sleepy, but quite ready for fun as usual. 

" Now, keep quiet, and I '11 show you how to play a 
first-rate game called ' Poker,' " said Dan, as the three 
revellers gathered round the table, on which were set 
forth the bottle, the cigar, and the cards. " First we '11 
all have a drink, then we '11 take a go at the ' weed,' 
and then we '11 play. That 's the way men do, and it 's 
jolly fun." 

The beer circulated in a mug, and all three smacked 
their lips over it, though Nat and Tommy did not like 
the bitter stuff. The cigar was worse still, but they 
dared not say so, and each puffed away till he was 
dizzy or choked, when he passed the "weed" on to 
his neighbor. Dan liked it, for it seemed like old times 
when he now and then had a chance to imitate the 
low men who surrounded him. He drank, and smoked, 



106 LITTLE MEN. 

and swaggered as much like them as he could, and> 
getting into the spirit of the part he assumed, he soon 
began to swear under his breath for fear some one 
should hear him. " You mustn't ; it 's wicked to say 
' Damn ! ' cried Tommy, who had followed his leader 
so far. 

"Oh, hang! don't you preach, but play away; it's 
part of the fun to swear." 

" I 'd rather say ' thunder turtles,' ' ' said Tommy, 
who had composed this interesting exclamation and 
was very proud of it. 

" And I '11 say < The Devil ; ' that sounds well," added 
Nat, much impressed by Dan's manly ways. 

Dan scoffed at their " nonsense," and swore stoutly 
as he tried to teach them the new game. 

But Tommy was very sleepy, and Nat's head began 
to ache with the beer and the smoke, so neither of them 
was very quick to learn, and the game dragged. The 
room was nearly dark, for the lantern burned badly; 
they could not laugh loud nor move about much, for 
Silas slept next door in the shed-chamber, and alto- 
gether the party was dull. In the middle of a deal Dan 
stopped suddenly, called out, " Who 's that ? " in a 
startled tone, and at the same moment drew the slide 
over the light. A voice in the darkness said, tremu- 
lously, " I can't find Tommy," and then there was the 
quick patter of bare feet running away down the entry 
that led from the wing to the main house. 

"It's Demi! he's gone to call some one; cut into 
bed, Tom, and don't tell!" cried Dan, whisking all 
signs of the revel out of sight, and beginning to tear 
off his clothes, while Nat did the same. 



A FIRE BRAND. 107 

Tommy flew to his room and dived into bed, where 
he lay laughing till something burned his hand, when 
he discovered that he was still clutching the stump of 
the festive cigar, which he happened to be smoking 
when the revel broke up. 

It was nearly out, and he was about to extinguish it 
carefully when Nursey's voice was heard, and fearing 
it would betray him if he hid it in the bed, he threw it 
underneath, after a final pinch which he thought fin- 
ished it. 

Nursey came in with Demi, who looked much amazed 
to see the red face of Tommy reposing peacefully upon 
his pillow. 

" He wasn't there just now, because I woke up and 
could not find him anywhere," said Demi, pouncing on 
him. 

" What mischief are you at now, bad child ? " asked 
Nursey, with a good-natured shake, which made the 
sleeper open his eyes to say, meekly, 

" I only ran into Nat's room to see him about some- 
thing. Go away, and let me alone ; I 'm awful sleepy." 

Nursey tucked Demi in, and went off to reconnoitre, 
but only found two boys slumbering peacefully in Dan's 
room. " Some little frolic," she thought, and as there 
was no harm done she said nothing to Mrs. Bhaer, who 
was busy and worried over little Teddy. 

Tommy was sleepy and telling Demi to mind his 
own business and not ask questions, he was snoring in 
ten minutes, little dreaming what was going on under 
his bed. The cigar did not go out, but smouldered 
away on the straw carpet till it was nicely on fire, and 
a hungry little flame went creeping along till the dimity 



105 LITTLE Jl/A'.V. 

bedcover caught, then the sheets, and then the bed 
it sell'. The beer made Tominv sleep heavily, and the 



smoke stupefied IVmi, so they slept on till the tire 
be^an to scorch them, and they were in danger of behiii 

^_ * C7 ^j 

burned to death. 

Franz was sitting up to study, and as he left the 
school-room he smelt the smoke, dashed up-stairs and 
saw it coming in a cloud from the left wing of the 
house. Without stopping to call any one, he ran into 
the room, draped the boys from the blazing bed, and 
splashed all the water he could find at hand on to the 
flames. It checked but did not quench the tire, and 
the children, wakened on being tumbled topsy-turvy 
into a cold hall, began to roar at the top of their 
voices. Mrs. Bhaer instantly appeared, and a minute 
after Silas burst out of his room shouting "Fire!" in a 
tone that raised the whole house. A flock of white 
goblins with scared faces crowded into the hall, and 
for a minute every one was panic-stricken. 

Then Mrs. Bhaer found her wits, bade Xursey see to 
the burnt bovs, and sent Franz and Silas down-stairs 



for some tubs of wet clothes which she flung on to the 
bed. over the carpet, and up against the curtains, now 
burninor tiuolv, and threatening to kindle the walls. 



Most of the bovs stood dumblv looking on, but Dan 



and Emil worked bravely, running to and fro with 
water from the bath-room, and helping to pull down 
the dangerous curtains. 

The peril was soon over, ami ordering the boys all 
back to bed. and leaving Silas to watch lest the tire 
broke out a^ain, Mrs. Bhaer and Franz went to see 
how the poor boys got 011. Deuii had escaped with 



A FIRE BRAND. 109 

one burn and a grand scare, hut Tommy had not only 
most of his hair scorched off his head, hut a great burn 
on his arm, that made him half crazy with the pain. 
Demi was soon made cosy, and Franz took him away 
to his own bed, where the kind lad soothed his fright 
and hummed him to sleep as cosily as a woman. 
Kursey watched over poor Tommy all night, trying to 
ease his misery, arid Mrs. Bhaer vibrated between him 
and little Teddy wit.}) oil and cotton, paregoric and 
squills, saying to herself from time to time, as if she 
found great amusement in the thought, "I always 
knew Tommy would set the hou.se on fire, and now he 
has done it ! ' : 

When Mr. Bhaer got home next morning he found a 
nice state of things. Tommy in bed, Teddy wheezing 
like a little grampus, Mrs. Jo quite used up, and the 
whole flock of boys so excited that they all talked at 
once, and almost dragged him by main force to view 
the ruins. Under his quiet management things soon 
fell into order, for every one felt that he was equal to 
a dozen conflagrations, and worked with a will at what- 
ever task he gave them. 

There was no school that morning, but by afternoon 
the damaged room was put to rights, the invalids were 
better, and there was time to hear and judge the little 
culprits quietly. Nat and Tommy told their parts in 
the mischief, and were honestly sorry for the danger 
tney had brought to the dear old house and all in it. 
But Dan put on his devil-may-care look, and would not 
own that there was much harm done. 

Now, of all things, Mr. Bhaer hated drinking, gam- 
bling, and swearing; smoking he had given up that 



110 LITTLE MEN. 

the lads might not be tempted to try it, and it grieved 
and angered him deeply to find that the boy, with 
whom he had tried to be most forbearing, should take 
advantage of his absence to introduce these forbidden 
vices, and teach his innocent little lads to think it 
manly and pleasant to indulge in them. He talked 
long and earnestly to the assembled boys, and ended 
by saying, with an air of mingled firmness and re- 
gret 

" I think Tommy is punished enough, and that scai 
on his arm will remind him for a long time to let these 
things alone. Nat's fright will do for him, for he ia 
really sorry, and does try to obey me. But you, Dan> 
have been many times forgiven, and yet it does no 
good. I cannot have my boys hurt by your bad exam- 
ple, nor my time wasted in talking to deaf ears, so you 
can say good-by to them all, and tell Nursey to put 
up your things in my little black bag." 

" Oh ! sir, where is he going ? " cried Nat. 

"To a pleasant place up in the country, where I 
sometimes send boys when they don't do well here. 
Mr. Page is a kind man, and Dan will be happy there 
if he chooses to do his best." 

" Will he ever come back ? " asked Demi. 

"That will depend on himself; I hope so." 

As he spoke, Mr. Bhaer left the room to write his 
letter to Mr. Page, and the boys crowded round Dan 
very much as people do about a man who is going on a 
long and perilous journey to unknown regions. 

" I wonder if you '11 like it," began Jack. 

" Shan't stay if I don't," said Dan, coolly. 

' ' Where will you go V " asked Nat. 



A FIRE BRAND. HI 

"I may go to sea, or out west, or take a look at 
California," answered Dan, with a reckless air that 
quite took away the breath of the little boys. 

" Oh, don't ! stay with Mr. Page awhile and then 
come back here ; do, Dan," pleaded Nat, much affected 
at the whole affair. 

" I don't care where I go, or how long I stay, and 
I '11 be hanged if I ever come back here," with which 
wrathful speech Dan went away to put up his things, 
every one of which Mr. Bhaer had given him. 

That was the only good-by he gave the boys, for 
they were all talking the matter over in the barn when 
he came down, and he told Nat not to call them. The 
wagon stood at the door, and Mrs. Bhaer came out to 
speak to Dan, looking so sad that his heart smote nim, 
and he said in a low tone 

"May I say good-by to Teddy? " 

" Yes, dear ; go in and kiss him, he will miss his 
Danny very much." 

No one saw the look in Dan's eyes as he stooped 
over the crib, and saw the little face light up at first sight 
of him, but he heard Mrs. Bhaer say pleadingly 

" Can't we give the poor lad one more trial, Fritz ? " 
and Mr. Bhaer answer in his steady way 

" My dear, it is not best, so let him go where he can 
do no harm to others, while they do good to him, and 
by and by he shall come back, I promise you." 

" He 's the only boy we ever failed with, and I am so 
grieved, for I thought there was the making of a fine 
man in him, spite of his faults." 

Dan heard Mrs. Bhaer sigh, and he wanted to ask for 
one more trial himself, but his pride would not let him, 



H2 LITTLE MEN. 

and he camo out with the hard look on his face, shook 
hands without a word, and drove away with Mr. Bhaer, 
leaving Nat and Mrs. Jo to look after him with tears 
in their eyes. 

A few days afterwards they received a letter from 
Mr. Page, saying that Dan was doing well, whereat 
they all rejoiced. But three weeks later came another 
letter, saying that Dan had run away, and nothing had 
been heard of him, whereat they all looked sober, and 
Mr- Bhaer said 

" Perhaps I ought to have given him another chance." 

Mrs. Bhaeri however, nodded wisely and answered, 
tf Don't be troubled, Fritz ; the boy will come back to 
us, I 'm sure of it." 

But time went on and no Dan came. 



CHAPTER VII. 

NAUGHTY NAN. 

* T^RITZ, 1 Ve got a new idea," cried Mrs. Bhaer, as 

JL she met her husband one day after school. 

" Well, my dear, what is it ? " and he waited willingly 
to hear the new plan, for some of Mrs. Jo's ideas were 
so droll, it was impossible to help laughing at them, 
though usually they were quite sensible, and he was 
glad to carry them out. 

" Daisy needs a companion, and the boys would be 
all the better for another girl among them ; you know 
we believe in bringing up little men and women to- 
gether, and it is high time we acted up to our belief. 
They pet and tyrannize over Daisy by turns, and she is 
getting spoilt. Then they must learn gentle ways, and 
improve their manners, and having girls about will do 
it better than any thing else." 

" You are right, as usual. Now, who shall we have ? " 
asked Mr Bhaer, seeing by the look in her eye that 
Mrs. Jo had some one all ready to propose. 

" Little Annie Harding." 

" What ! Naughty Nan, as the lads call her ? " cried 
Mr. Bhaer, looking very much amused. 

M Yes, she is running wild at home since her mother 

8 



114 LITTLE MEN. 

died, and is too bright a child to be spoilt by servants 
I have had my eye on her for some time, and when 1 
met her father in town the other day I asked him why 
he did not send her to school. He said he would 
gladly if he could find as good a school for girls, as 
ours was for boys. I know he would rejoice to have 
her come ; so suppose Ve drive over this afternoon and 
see about it." 

" Have not you cares enough now, my Jo, without 
this little gypsy to torment you?" asked Mr. Bhaer, 
patting the hand that lay on his arm. 

" Oh dear, no," said Mother Bhaer, briskly. " I like 
it, and never was happier than since I had my wilder- 
ness of boys. You see, Fritz, I feel a great sympathy 
for Nan, because I was such a naughty child myself 
that I know all about it. She is full of spirits, and only 
needs to be taught what to do with them to be as nice 
a little girl as Daisy. Those quick wits of hers w T ould 
enjoy lessons if they were rightly directed, and what 
is now a tricksy midget would soon become a busy 
happy child. I know how to manage her, for I remem- 
ber how my blessed mother managed me, and " 

" And if you succeed half as well as she did, you will 
have done a magnificent work," interrupted Mr. Bhaer, 
who labored under the delusion that Mrs. B. was the 
best and most charming woman alive. 

" Now, if you make fun of my plan I '11 give you bad 
coffee for a week, and then where are you, sir ? " cried 
Mrs. Jo, tweaking him by the ear just as if he was one 
of the boys. 

" Won't Daisy's hair stand erect with horror at Nan's 
wild ways ? " asked Mr. Bhaer, presently, when Teddy 



NAUGHTY NAN. 115 

had swarmed up his waistcoat, and Rob up his back, 
for they always flew at their father the minute school 
was done." 

" At first, perhaps, but it will do Posy good. She is 
getting prim and Bettyish, and needs stirring up a bit. 
She always has a good time when Nan comes over to 
play, and the two will help each other without knowing 
it. Dear me, half the science of teaching is knowing 
how much children do for one another, and when to 
mix them." 

" I only hope she won't turn out another firebrand." 

" My poor Dan ! I never can quite forgive myself 
for letting him go," sighed Mrs. Bhaer. 

At the sound of the name, little Teddy, who had 
never forgotten his friend, struggled down from his 
father's arms, and trotted to the door, looked out over 
the sunny lawn with a wistful face, and then trotted 
back again, saying, as he always did when disappointed 
of the longed-for sight 

" My Danny's tummin' soon." 

" I really think we ought to have kept him, if only 
for Teddy's sake, he was so fond of him, and perhaps 
baby's love would have done for him what we failed 
to do." 

" I Ve sometimes felt that myself; but after keeping 
the boys in a ferment, and nearly burning up the whole 
family, I thought it safer to remove the firebrand, for 
a time at least," said Mr. Bhaer. 

" Dinner 's ready, let me ring the bell," and Rob be- 
gan a solo upon that instrument which made it impos 
sible to hear one's self speak. 

* Then, I may have Nan, may I ? " asked Mrs. Jo. 



116 LITTLE MEN. 

" A dozen Nans if you want c 'hem, my dear," an- 
swered Mr. Bhaer, who had room in his fatherly heart 
for all the naughty neglected children in the world. 

When Mrs. Bhaer returned from her drive that after- 
noon, before she could unpack the load of little boys, 
without whom she seldom moved, a small girl of ten 
skipped out at the back of the carry-all, and ran into 
the house, shouting 

" Hi, Daisy ! where are you ? " 

Daisy came, and looked pleased to see her guest, but 
also a trifle alarmed, when Nan said, still prancing, as 
if it was impossible to keep still 

" I 'm going to stay here always, papa says I may, 
and my box is coming to-morrow, all my things had to 
be washed and mended, and your aunt came and carried 
me off. Isn't it great fun ? " 

" Why, yes. Did you bring your big doll ? " asked 
Daisy, hoping she had, for on the last visit Nan had 
ravaged the baby house, and insisted on washing 
Blanche Matilda's plaster face, which spoilt the poor 
dear's complexion for ever. 

" Yes, she 's somewhere round," returned Nan, with 
most unmaternal carelessness. " I made you a ring com- 
ing along, and pulled the hairs out of Dobbin's tail. 
Don't you want it ? " and Nan presented a horse-hair 
ring in token of friendship, as they had both vowed 
they would never speak to one another again when 
they last parted. 

Won by the beauty of the offering, Daisy grew more 
cordial, and proposed retiring to the nursery, but Nan 
said, " No, I want to see the boys, and the barn," and 
ran off, swinging her hat by one string till it broke, 
when she left it to its fate on the grass. 



NAUGHTY NAN. 117 

" Hullo ! Nan ! " cried the boys as she bounced in 
among them with the announcement 

" I 'm going to stay." 

" Hooray ! " bawled Tommy from the wall on which 
he was perched, for Nan was a kindred spirit, and he 
foresaw " larks " in the future. 

" I can bat ; let me play," said Nan, who could turn 
her hand to any thing, and did not mind hard knocks. 

" We ain't playing now, and our side beat without 
you." 

" I can beat you in running, any way," returned Nan, 
falling back on her strong point. 

" Can she ? " asked Nat of Jack. 

" She runs very well for a girl," answered Jack, who 
looked down upon Nan with condescending approval. 

" Will you try ? " said Nan, longing to display her 
powers. 

" It 's too hot," and Tommy languished against the 
wall as if quite exhausted. 

" What 's the matter with Stuffy ? " asked Nan, whose 
quick eyes were roving from face to face. 

"Ball hurt his hand; he howls at every thing," 
answered Jack, scornfully. 

" I don't, I never cry, no matter how much I 'm hurt ; 
it 's babyish," said Nan, loftily. 

"Pooh! I could make you cry in two minutes," 
returned Stuffy, rousing up. 

" See if you can." 

" Go and pick that bunch of nettles then," and Stuffy 
pointed to a sturdy specimen of that prickly plant 
growing by the wall. 

Nan instantly " grasped the nettle," pulled it up, and 



118 LITTLE MEN. 

field it with a defiant gesture, in spite of the almost 
unbearable sting. 

" Good for you," cried the boys, quick to acknowledge 
courage even in one of the weaker sex. 

More nettled than she was, Stuffy determined to get 
a cry out of her somehow, and he said tauntingly, 
" You are used to poking your hands into every thing, 
so that isn't fair. Now go and bump your head real 
hard against the barn, and see if you don't howl then." 

" Don't do it," said Nat, who hated cruelty. 

But Nan was off, and running straight at the barn, 
she gave her head a blow that knocked her flat, and 
sounded like a battering-ram. Dizzy, but undaunted 
she staggered up, saying stoutly, though her face was 
drawn with pain. 

" That hurt, but I don't cry." 

" Do it again," said Stuffy, angrily ; and Nan would 
have done it, but Nat held her ; and Tommy, forgetting 
the heat, flew at Stuffy like a little game-cock, roaring 
out 

" Stop it, or I '11 throw you over the barn ! " and so 
shook and hustled poor Stuffy, that for a minute he did 
not know whether he was on his head or his heels. 

" She told me to," was all he could say, when Tommy 
let him alone. 

" Never mind if she did ; it is awfully mean to hurt 
a little girl," said Demi, reproachfully. 

" Ho ! I don't mind ; I ain't a little girl, I 'm older 
than you and Daisy ; so now," cried Nan, ungratefully. 

"Don't preach, Deacon, you bully Posy every day 
of your life," called out the Commodore, who just then 
hove in sight. 



NAUGHTY NAN. 119 

<( I don't hurt her ; do I, Daisy ? " and Demi turned 
to his sister, who was " pooring " Nan's tingling hands, 
and recommending water for the purple lump rapidly 
developing itself on her forehead. 

"You are the best boy in the world," promptly 
answered Daisy ; adding, as truth compelled her to do, 
" You do hurt me sometimes, but you don't mean to." 

" Put away the bats and things, and mind what you 
are about, my hearties. No fighting allowed aboard 
this ship," said Emil, who rather lorded it over the 
others. 

"How do you do, Madge Wildfire? "said Mr. Bhaer, 
as Nan came in with the rest to supper. "Give the 
right hand, little daughter, and mind thy manners," 
he added, as Nan offered him her left. 

" The other hurts me." 

"The poor little hand! what has it been doing to 
get those blisters ? " he asked, drawing it from behind 
her back, where she had put it with a look which made 
him think she had been in mischief. 

Before Nan could think of any excuse, Daisy burst 
out with the whole story, during which Stuffy tried to 
hide his face in a bowl of bread and milk. When the 
tale was finished, Mr. Bhaer looked down the long 
table towards his wife, and said with a laugh in his 
eyes 

" This rather belongs to your side of the house, so 
I won't meddle with it, my dear." 

Mrs. Jo knew what he meant, but she liked her little 
black sheep all the better for her pluck, though she 
only said in her soberest way 

" Do you know why I asked Nan to come here ? " 



120 LITTLE MEN. 

* 

"To plague me," muttered Stuffy, with his mouth 
full. 

"To help me make little gentlemen of you, and I 
think you have shown that some of you need it." 

Here Stuffy retired into his bowl again, and did not 
emerge till Demi made them all laugh by saying, in his 
slow wondering way 

" How can she, when she 's such a torn-boy ! " 

" That 's just it, she needs help as much as you, and 
I expect you to set her an example of good manners." 

" Is she going to be a little gentleman too ? " asked 
Rob. 

" She 'd like it ; wouldn't you, Nan ? " added Tommy. 

"No, I shouldn't; I hate boys!" said Nan, fiercely, 
for her hand still smarted, and she began to think that 
she might have shown her courage in some wiser way. 

" I am sorry you hate my boys, because they can be 
well-mannered, and most agreeable when they choose. 
Kindness in looks and words and ways is true polite- 
ness, and any one can have it if they only try to treat 
other people as they like to be treated themselves." 

Mrs. Bhaer had addressed herself to Nan, but the 
boys nudged one another, and appeared to take the 
hint, for that time at least, and passed the butter ; said 
" please," and " thank you," " yes, sir," and " no, ma'am," 
with unusual elegance and respect. Nan said nothing, 
but kept herself quiet and refrained from tickling 
Demi, though strongly tempted to do so, because of 
the dignified airs he put on. She also appeared to have 
forgotten her hatred of boys, and played " I spy " with 
them till dark. Stuffy was observed to offer her 
frequent sucks of his candy-ball during the game 



NAUGHTY NAN. 121 

which evidently sweetened her temper, for the last 
thing she said on going to bed was 

" When my battledore and shuttle-cock comes, I '11 
let you all play with 'em." 

Her first remark in the morning was, " Has my box 
come ? " and when told that it would arrive sometime 
during the day, she fretted and fumed, and whipped 
her doll, till Daisy was shocked. She managed to exist, 
however, till five o'clock, when she disappeared, and 
was not missed till supper-time, because those at home 
thought she had gone to the hill with Tommy and 
Demi. 

" I saw her going down the avenue alone as hard as 
she could pelt," said Mary Anne, coming in with the 
hasty-pudding, and finding every one asking, " Where 
is Nan ? " 

" She has run home, little gypsy ! " cried Mrs. Bhaer, 
looking anxious. 

" Perhaps she has gone to the station to look after 
her luggage," suggested Franz. 

" That is impossible, she does not know the way, and 
if she found it she could never carry the box a mile," 
said Mrs. Bhaer, beginning to think that her new idea 
might be rather a hard one to carry out. 

" It would be like her," and Mr. Bhaer caught up his 
hat to go and find the child, when a shout from Jack, 
who was at the window, made every one hurry to the 
door. 

There was Miss Nan, to be sure, tugging along a large 
band-box tied up in a linen bag. Very hot and dusty 
and tired did she look, but marched stoutly along, and 
came puffing up to the steps, where she dropped her 



122 LITTLE MEN- 

load with a sigh of relief, and sat down upon it, observ- 
ing as she crossed her tired arms 

" I couldn't wait any longer, so I went and got it." 

" But you did not know the way," said Tommy, while 
the rest stood round enjoying the joke. 

" Oh, I found it, I never get lost." 

"It's a mile, how could you go so far? r 

" Well, it was pretty far, but I rested a good deal." 

" Wasn't that thing very heavy ? " 

" It 's so round, I couldn't get hold of it good, and I 
thought my arms would break right off." 

" I don't see how the station-master let you have it," 
said Tommy. 

" I didn't say any thing to him. He was in the little 
ticket place, and didn't see me, so I just took it off the 
platform." 

" Run down and tell him it is all right, Franz, or old 
Dodd will think it is stolen," said Mr. Bhaer, joining in 
the shout of laughter at Nan's coolness. 

" I told you we would send for it if it did not come. 
Another time you must wait, for you will get into 
trouble if you run away. Promise me this, or I shall 
not dare to trust you out of my sight," said Mrs. Bhaer, 
wiping the dust off Nan's little hot face. 

" Well, I won't, only papa tells me not to put off 
Joing things, so I don't." 

" That is rather a poser ; I think you had better give 
her some supper now, and a private lecture by and by," 
said Mr. Bhaer, too much amused to be angry at the 
young lady's exploit. 

The bovs thought it " great fun," and Nan entertained 

/ o o 

them all supper-time with an account of her adventures ; 



NAUGHTY NAN. 123 

for a big dog had barked at her, a man had laughed at 
her, a woman had given her a doughnut, and her hat 
had fallen into the brook when she stopped to drink, 
exhausted with her exertion. 

" I fancy you will have your hands full now, my dear, 
Tommy and Nan are quite enough for one woman," 
6aid Mr. Bhaer, half an hour later. 

" I know it will take some time to tame the child, but 
ehe is such a generous, warm-hearted little thing, I 
should love her even if she were twice as naughty," 
answered Mrs. Jo, pointing to the merry group, in the 
middle of which stood Nan, giving away her things 
right and left, as lavishly as if the big band-box had 
no bottom. 

It was those good traits that soon made little " Giddy 
gaddy," as they called her, a favorite with every one. 
Daisy never complained of being dull again, for Nan 
invented the most delightful plays, and her pranks 
rivalled Tommy's, to the amusement of the whole school. 
She buried her big doll and forgot it for a week, and 
found it well mildewed when she dug it up. Daisy was 
in despair, but Nan took it to the painter who was at 
work about the house, got him to paint it brick red, with 
staring black eyes, then she dressed it up with feathers, 
and scarlet flannel, and one of Ned's leaden hatchets ; 
and in the character of an Indian chief, the late Poppy- 
dilla tomahawked all the other dolls, and caused the 
nursery to run red with imaginary gore. She gave away 
her new shoes to a beggar child, hoping to be allowed to 
go barefoot, but found it impossible to combine charity 
and comfort, and was ordered to ask leave before dis- 
posing of her clothes. She delighted the boys by making 



124 LITTLE MEN. 

a fire-ship out of a shingle with two large sails wet with 
turpentine, which she lighted, and then sent the little 
vessel floating down the brook at dusk. She harnessed 
the old turkey-cock to a straw wagon, and made him 
trot round the house at a tremendous pace. She gave 
her coral necklace for four unhappy kittens, which had 
been tormented by some heartless lads, and tended them 
for days as gently as a mother, dressing their wounds 
with cold cream, feeding them with a doll's spoon, and 
mourning over them when they died, till she was con- 
soled by one of Demi's best turtles. She made Silas 
tattoo an anchor on her arm like his, and begged hard 
to have a blue star on each cheek, but he dared not do 
it, though she coaxed and scolded till the soft-hearted 

7 O 

fellow longed to give in. She rode every animal on the 
place, from the big horse Andy to the cross pig, from 
whom she was rescued with difficulty. Whatever the 
boys dared her to do she instantly attempted, no matter 
how dangerous it might be, and they were never tired 
of testing her courage. 

d7 O 

Mr. Bhaer suggested that they should see who would 
study best, and Nan found as much pleasure in using 
her quick wits and fine memory as her active feet and 
merry tongue, while the lads had to do their best to 
keep their places, for Nan showed them that girls could 
do most things as well as boys, and some things better. 
There were no rewards in school, but Mr. Bhaer's "Well 
done ! " and Mrs. Bhaer's good report on the conscience 
book, taught them to love duty for its own sake, and 
try to do it faithfully, sure that sooner or later the rec- 
ompense would come. Little Nan was quick to feel 
the new atmosphere, to enjoy it, to show that it was 



NAUGHTY NAN. 125 

what she needed ; for this little garden was full of sweet 
flowers, half hidden by the weeds; and when kind 
hands gently began to cultivate it, all sorts of green 
shoots sprung up, promising to blossom beautifully in 
the warmth of love and care, the best climate for young 
hearts and souls all the world over. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

PRANKS AND PLAYS. 

AS there is no particular plan to this story, .except 
to describe a few scenes in the life at Plum- 
field for the amusement of certain little persons, we will 
gently ramble along in this chapter and tell some of 
the pastimes of Mrs. Jo's boys. I beg leave to assure 
my honored readers that most of the incidents are 
taken from real life, and that the oddest are the truest ; 
for no person, no matter how vivid an imagination he 
may have, can invent any thing half so droll as the 
freaks and fancies that originate in the lively brains of 
little people. 

Daisy and Demi were full of these whims, and lived 
in a world of their own, peopled with lovely or gro- 
tesque creatures, to whom they gave the queerest names f 
and with whom they played the queerest games. One 
of these nursery inventions was an invisible sprite called 
" The Naughty Kitty-mouse," whom the children had 
believed in, feared, and served for a long time. They 
seldom spoke of it to any one else, kept their rites as 
private as possible ; and, as they never tried to describe 
it even to themselves, this being had a vague mysterious 
charm very agreeable to Demi, who delighted in elves 



FRANKS AND PLAYS. 127 

and goblins. A most whimsical and tyrannical imp was 
the Naughty Kitty-mouse, and Daisy found a fearful 
pleasure in its service, blindly obeying its most absurd 
demands, which were usually proclaimed from the lips 
of Demi, whose powers of invention were great. Rob 
and Teddy sometimes joined in these ceremonies, and 
considered them excellent fun, although they did not 
understand half that went on. 

One day after school Demi whispered to his sister, 
with an ominous wag of the head 

" The Kitty-mouse wants us this afternoon." 

" What for ? " asked Daisy, anxiously. 

"A sackerryfice" answered Demi, solemnly. "There 
must be a fire behind the big rock at two o'clock, and 
we must all bring the things we like best, and burn 
them ! " he added, with an awful emphasis on the last 
words. 

" Oh, dear ! I love the new paper dollies Aunt Amy 
painted for me best of any thing, must I burn them 
up ? " cried Daisy, who never thought of denying the 
unseen tyrant any thing it demanded. 

" Every one. I shall burn my boat, my best scrap- 
book, and all my soldiers," said Demi, firmly. 

" Well, I will ; but it 's too bad of Kitty-mouse to 
want our very nicest things," sighed Daisy. 

" A sackerryfice means to give up what you are fond 
of, so we must" explained Demi, to whom the new idea 
had been suggested by hearing Uncle Fritz describe 
the customs of he Greeks to the big boys who were 
reading about them .in school. 

" Is Rob coming too ? " asked Daisy. 

" Yes, and he is going to bring his toy village ; it is 



128 LITTLE MEN. 

all made of wood, you know, and will burn nicely. 
We '11 have a grand bonfire, and see them blaze up, 
won't we?" 

This brilliant prospect consoled Daisy, and she ate 
her dinner with a row of paper dolls before her, as a 
sort of farewell banquet. 

At the appointed hour the sacrificial train set forth, 
each child bearing the treasures demanded by the in- 
satiable Kitty-mouse. Teddy insisted on going also, 
and seeing that all the others had toys, he tucked a 
squeaking lamb under one arm, and old Annabella 
under the other, little dreaming what anguish the latter 
idol was to give him. 

" Where are you going, my chickens ? " asked Mrs. 
Jo, as the flock passed her door. 

" To play by the big rock ; can't we ? " 

" Yes, only don't go near the pond, and take good 
care of baby." 

" I always do," said Daisy, leading forth her charge 
with a capable air. 

" !N ow, you must all sit round, and not move till I 
tell vou. This flat stone is an altar, and I am Groins; to 

* O O 

make a fire on it." 

Demi then proceeded to kindle up a small blaze, as 
he had seen the boys do at pic-nics. When the flame 
burned well, he ordered the company to march round 
it three times and then stand in a circle. 

" I shall begin, and as fast as my things are burnt, 
\'ou must bring; vours." 

* -^ 

With that he solemnly laid on a little paper book full 
of pictures, pasted in by himself; this was followed by 
a dilapidated boat, and then one by one the unhappy 



PRANKS AND PLAYS. 129 

leaden soldiers marched to death. Not one faltered or 
hung back, from the splendid red and yellow captain, 
to the small drummer who had lost his legs ; all van- 
ished in the flames and mingled in one common pool 
of melted lead. 

" Xow, Daisy ! " called the high priest of Kitty-mouse, 
when his rich offerings had been consumed, to the great 
satisfaction of the children. 

" My dear dollies, how can I let them go ? " moaned 
Daisy, hugging the entire dozen with a face full of 
maternal woe. 

" You must," commanded Demi ; and with a farewell 
kiss to each, Daisy laid her blooming dolls upon the 
coals. 

" Let me keep one, the dear blue thing, she is so 
sweet," besought the poor little mamma, clutching her 
last in despair. 

" More ! more ! '" growled an awful voice, and Demi 
cried, " That's the Kitty-mouse ! she must have every 
one, quick or she will scratch us ! " 

In went the precious blue belle, flounces, rosy hat, 
and all, and nothing but a few black flakes remained of 

' ^j 

that bright band. 

" Stand the houses and trees round, and let them 
catch themselves ; it will be like a real fire then," said 
Demi, who liked variety even in his " gackerryfices." 

Charmed by this suggestion, the children arranged 
the doomed village, laid a line of coals along the main 
street, and then sat down to watch the conflagration. 
It was somewhat slow to kindle owing to the paint, but 
at last one ambitious little cottage blazed up, fired a 
tree of the palm species, which fell on to the roof of a 



130 LITTLE MEN. 

large family mansion, and in a few minutes the entire 
town was burning merrily. The wooden population 
stood and stared at the destruction like blockheads, as 
they were, till they also caught and blazed away with- 
out a cry. It took some time to reduce the town to 
ashes, and the lookers-on enjoyed the spectacle im- 
mensely, cheering as each house fell, dancing like wild 
Indians when the steeple flamed aloft, and actually 
casting one wretched little churn-shaped lady, who had 
escaped to the suburbs, into the very heart of the fire. 

The superb success of this last offering excited Teddy 
to such a degree, that he first threw his lamb into the 
conflagration, and before it had time even to roast, he 
planted poor dear Annabella on the funeral pyre. Of 
course she did not like it, and expressed her anguish 
and resentment in a way that terrified her infant de- 
stroyer. Being covered with kid, she did not blaze, 
but did what was worse, she squirmed. First one leg 
curled up, then the other, in a very awful and lifelike 
manner; next she flung her arms over her head as if in 
great agony ; her head itself turned on her shoulders, 
her glass eyes fell out, and with one final writhe of her 
whole body, she sank down a blackened mass on the 
ruins of the town. This unexpected demonstration 
startled every one and frightened Teddy half out of his 
little wits. He looked, then screamed and fled toward 
the house, roaring " Mannar," at the top of his voice. 

Mrs. Bhaer heard the outcry and ran to the rescue, 
but Teddy could only cling to her and pour out in his 
broken way something about, " poor Bella hurted," " a 
dreat fire," and " all the dollies dorn." Fearing some 

* O 

dire mishap, his mother caught him up and hurried to 



PRANKS AND PLATS. 131 

the scene of action, where she found the blind worship- 
pers of Kitty-mouse mourning over the charred remains 
of the lost darling. 

" What have you been at ? Tell me all about it," 
said Mrs. Jo, composing herself to listen patiently, for 
the culprits looked so penitent, she forgave them before- 
hand. 

With some reluctance Demi explained their play, and 
Aunt Jo laughed till the tears ran down her cheeks, the 
children were so solemn, and the play was so absurd. 

" I thought you were too sensible to play such a silly 
game as this. If I had any Kitty-mouse I 'd have a 
good one who liked you to play in safe pleasant ways, 
and not destroy and frighten. Just see what a ruin you 
have made ; all Daisy's pretty dolls, Demi's soldiers, 
and Rob's new village, besides poor Teddy's pet lamb, 
and dear old Annabella. I shall have to write up in the 
nursery the verse that used to come in the boxes of 
toys 

' The children of Holland take pleasure in making, 
What the children of Boston take pleasure in breaking.* 

Only I shall put Plumfield instead of Boston." 

" We never will again, truly, truly ! " cried the repent- 
ant little sinners, much abashed at this reproof 

" Demi told us to," said Rob. 

" Well, I heard Uncle tell about the Greece people, 
who had altars and things, and so I wanted to be like 
them, only I hadn't any live creatures to sackerryfice, 
so we burnt up our toys." 

K Dear me, that is something like the bean story," 
said Aunt Jo, laughing again. 



132 LITTLE MEN. 

" Tell about it.," suggested Daisy, to change the sub 
ject. 

" Once there was a poor woman who had three or 
four little children, and she used to lock them up in her 
room when she went out to work, to keep them safe. 
One day when she was going away she said, 4 Now, my 
dears, don't let baby fall out of window, don't play with 
the matches, and don't put beans up your noses.' Now 
the children had never dreamed of doing that last thing, 
but she put it into their heads, and the minute she was 
gone, they ran and stuffed their naughty little noses full 
of beans, just to see how it felt, and she found them all 
crying when she came home." 

*/ O 

" Did it hurt ? " asked Rob, with such intense interest 
that his mother hastily added a warning sequel, lest a 
new edition of the bean story should appear in her own 
family. 

"Very much, as I know, for when my mother told 
me this story, I was so silly that I went and tried it my- 
self. I had no beans, so I took some little pebbles, and 
poked several into my nose. I did not like it at all, and 
wanted to take them out again very soon, but one 
would not come, and I was so ashamed to tell what a 
o-oose I had been that I went for hours with the stone 

o 

hurting me very much. At last the pain got so bad I 
had to tell, and when my mother could not get it out 
the doctor came. Then I was put in a chair and held 
tight, Rob, while he used his ugly little pincers till the 
stone hopped out. Dear me ! how my wretched little 
nose did ache, and how people laughed at me ! ' :i and 
Mrs. Jo shook her head in a dismal way, as if the mem- 
ory of her sufferings was too much for her. 



PRANKS AND PLAYS. 133 

Rob looked deeply impressed and I am glad to say 
took the warning to heart. Demi proposed that they 
should bury poor Annabella, and in the interest of the 
funeral Teddy forgot his fright. Daisy was soon con- 
soled by another batch of dolls from Aunt Amy, and 
the Naughty Kitty-mouse seemed to be appeased by the 
last offerings, for she tormented them no more. 

O ' 

" Brops " was the name of a new and absorbing play, 
invented by Bangs. As this interesting animal is not 
to be found in any Zoological Garden, unless Du Cnaillu 
has recently brought one from the wilds of Africa, I 
will mention a few of its peculiar habits and traits, foi 
the benefit of inquiring minds. The Brop is a winged 
quadruped, with a human face of a youthful and merry 
aspect. When it walks the earth it grunts, when it 
soars it gives a shrill hoot, occasionally it goes erect, 
and talks good English. Its body is usually covered 
with a substance much resembling a shawl, sometimes 
red, sometimes blue, often plaid, and, strange to say, 
they frequently change skins with one another. On 
their heads they have a horn very like a stiff brown 
paper lamp-lighter. Wings of the same substance flap 
upon their shoulders when they fly ; this is never very 
far from the ground, as they usually fall with violence 
if they attempt any lofty flights. They browse over the 
earth, but can sit up and eat like the squirrel. Their 
favorite nourishment is the seed-cake ; apples also are 
freely taken, and sometimes raw carrots are nibbled 
when food is scarce. They live in dens, where they 
have a sort of nest, much like a clothes-basket, in which 
tha little Brops play till their wings are grown. These 
singular animals quarrel at times, and it is on thesa 



134 LITTLE 

occasions that they burst into human speech, call each 
other names, cry. scold, and sometimes tear off horns 
and skin, declaring fiercely that they "won't piay.'' 
The few privileged persons who have studied them are 
inclined, to think them a remarkable mixture of the 
monkey, the sphinx, the roc. and the queer creatures 
seen bv the famous Peter TTilkins. 



This same was a srreat favorite, and the voun^er 



children beguiled many a rainy afternoon flapping or 
creeping about the nursery, acting like little bedlamites 
and beine as merrv as little erins. To be sure, it was 



r :her hard upon clothes, particularly trouser-knees and 
jacket-elbows; but Mrs. Bhaer only said, as she patched 
and darned 

" "We do things just as foolish, and not half so harm- 
less. If I could get as much happiness out of it as the 
little clears do, I 'd be a Brop myself." 

Xat's favorite amusements were working in his gar- 
den, and sitting in the willow-tree with his violin, for 
that green nest was a fairy world to him, and there he 
loved to perch, making music like a happy bird. The 
lads called him u Old Chirper," because he was always 
humming, whistling, or fiddling, and they often stopped 
a minute in their work or play to listen to the soft tones 
of the violin, which seemed to lead a little orchestra of 
summer sounds. The birds appeared to regard him as 
one of themselves, and fearlessly sat on the fence or 
lit among the boughs to watch him with their quick 
bright eyes. The robins in the apple-tree near by evi- 
dently considered him a friend, for the father bird 
hunted insects close beside him, and the little mother 
brooded as confidingly over her blue eggs as if the boy 



PRAXES AXD PLAYS. 135 

was only a new sort of blackbird, who cheered her pa- 
tient watch with his sons. The brown brook babbled 

* . 

and sparkled below him, the bees haunted the clover 
fields on either side, friendly faces peeped at him as 
they passed, the old house stretched its wide wings L s- 
pitably toward him, and with a blessed sense of rest and 
love, and happiness, Xat dreamed for hours in this 

nook, unconscious what healthful miracles were beinsr 
7 3 

wrought upon him. 

One listener he had who never tired, and to whom 
he was more than a mere schoolmate. Poor Billv's 



chief delight was to lie beside the brook, watching 
leaves and bits of foam dance bv. listening dreamilv to 

* ' 

the music in the willow-tree. He seemed to think Xat 
a sort of angel who sat aloft and sang, for a few baby 
memories still lingered in his mind and seemed to 
grow brighter at these times. Seeing the interest he 
took in Xat, Mr. Bhaer begged him to help them lift 
the cloud from the feeble brain by this gentle spell. 
Glad to do any thing to show his gratitude, Xat always 
smiled on Billy when he followed him about, and let 
him listen undisturbed to the music which seemed to 
speak a language he could understand. "Help one 
another," was a favorite Plumfield motto, and Xat 

learned how much sweetness is added to life bv trvino 1 

> 3 

to live up to it. 

Jack Ford's peculiar pastime was buying and selling ; 
and he bid fair to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, a 
country merchant, who sold a little of every thing and 
made money fast. Jack had seen the sugar sanded, 
the molasses watered, the butter mixed with lard, and 
things of that kind, and labored under the delusion 



136 LITTLE MEX. 

that it was all a proper part of the business. His 
stock in trade was of a different sort, but he made as 
much as he could out of every worm he sold, and 
always got the best of the bargain when he traded 
with the boys for string, knives, fish-hooks, or what 
ever the article might be. The boys, who all hai 
nicknames, called him " Skinflint," but Jack did not 
care as long as the old tobacco-pouch in which he kept 
his money grew heavier and heavier. 

He established a sort of auction-room, and now and 
then sold off all the odds and ends he had collected, or 
helped the lads exchange things with one another. He 
got bats, balls, hockey-sticks, &c., cheap, from one set 
of mates, furbished them up, and let them for a few 
cents a time to another set, often extending his business 
beyond the gates of Plumfield in spite of the rules. 
Mr. Bhaer put a stop to some of his speculations, and 
tried to give him a better idea of business talent than 
mere sharpness in overreaching his neighbors. Now 
and then Jack made a bad bargain, and felt worse 
about it than about any failure in lessons or conduct, 
and took his revenge on the next innocent customer 
who came along. His account-book was a curiosity ; 
and his quickness at figures quite remarkable. Mr. 
Bhaer praised him for this, and tried to make his sense 
of honesty and honor as quick ; and, by and by, wher 
Jack found that he could not get on without these 
virtues, he owned that his teacher Avas right. 

Cricket and football the boys had of course but, 
after the stirring accounts of these games in the immori 
tal " Tom Brown at Rugby," no feeble female pen may 
venture to do more than respectfully allude to them, 



PRANKS AND PLAYS. 137 

Smil spent his holidays on the river or the pond, and 
drilled the elder lads for a race with certain town boys, 
who now and then invaded their territory. The race 
duly came off, but as it ended in a general shipwreck, 
it was not mentioned in public ; and the Commodore 
had serious thoughts of retiring to a desert island, so 
disgusted was he with his kind for a time. No desert 

o 

island beino: convenient, he was forced to remain 

O 

among his friends, and found consolation in building a 
boat-house. 

The little girls indulged in the usual plays of their 
age, improving upon them somewhat as their lively 
fancies suggested. The chief and most absorbing play 
was called " Mrs. Shakespeare Smith ; " the name was 
provided by Aunt Jo, but the trials of the poor lady 
were quite original. Daisy was Mrs. S. S., and Nan by 
turns her daughter or a neighbor, Mrs. Giddygaddy. 

No pen can describe the adventures of these ladies, 
for in one short afternoon their family was the scene 
of births, marriages, deaths, floods, earthquakes, tea- 
parties, and balloon ascensions. Millions of miles did 
these energetic women travel, dressed in hats and 
habits never seen before by mortal eye, perched on the 
bed, driving the posts like mettlesome steeds, and 
bouncing up and down till their heads spun. Fits 
and fires were the pet afflictions, with a general mas- 
sacre now and then by way of change. Nan was 
never tired of inventing fresh combinations, and Daisy 
followed her leader with blind admiration. Poor 
Teddy was a frequent victim, and was often rescued 
from real danger, for the excited ladies were apt to 
forget that he was not of the same stuff as their long- 



138 LITTLE MEN. 

suffering dolls. Once he was shut into a closet for a 
dungeon, and forgotten by the girls, who ran off to 
some out-of-door game. Another time he was half 
drowned in the bath-tub, playing be a " cunning little 
whale." And, worst of all, he was cut down just in 
time after being hung up for a robber. 

But the institution most patronized by all was the 

Club. It had no other name, and it needed none, beino; 

* & 

the only one in the neighborhood. The elder lads got 
it up, and the younger were occasionally admitted if 
they behaved well. Tommy and Demi were honorary 
members, but were always obliged to retire unpleas- 
antly early, owing to circumstances over which they 
had no control. The proceedings of this club were 
somewhat peculiar, for it met at all sorts of places and 
hours, had all manner of queer ceremonies and amuse- 
ments, and now and then was broken up tempestuously, 
only to be re-established, however, on a firmer basis. 

Rainy evenings the members met in the school-room, 
and passed the time in games : chess, morris, backgam- 
mon, fencing matches, recitations, debates, or dramatic 
performances of a darkly tragical nature. In summer 
the barn was the rendezvous, and what went on there no 
uninitiated mortal knows. On sultry evenings the Club 
adjourned to the brook for aquatic exercises, and the 
members sat about in airy attire, frog-like and cool. 
On such occasions the speeches were unusually elo- 
quent, quite flowing, as one might say ; and if any ora- 
tor's remarks displeased the audience, cold water was 
thrown upon him till his ardor was effectually quenched. 
Franz was president, and maintained order admirably, 
considering the unruly nature of the members. Mr 



PRANKS AND PLAYS. 139 

Bhaer never interfered with their affairs, and was re- 
warded for this wise forbearance by being invited now 
and then to behold the mysteries unveiled, which he 
appeared to enjoy much. 

When Nan came she wished to join the Club, and 
caused great excitement and division among the gen- 
tlemen by presenting endless petitions, both written 
and spoken, disturbing their solemnities by insulting 
them through the keyhole, performing vigorous solos 
on the door, and writing up derisive remarks on walls 
and fences, for she belonged to the "Irrepressibles." 
Finding these appeals vain, the girls, by the advice of 
Mrs. Jo, got up an institution of their own, which they 
called the Cosy Club. To this they magnanimously 
invited the gentlemen whose youth excluded them from 
the other one, and entertained these favored beings so 
well with little suppers, new games devised by Nan, 
and other pleasing festivities, that, one by one, the elder 
boys confessed a desire to partake of these more elegant 
enjoyments, and, after much consultation, finally decided 
to propose an interchange of civilities. 

The members of the Cosy Club were invited to adorn 
the rival establishment on certain evenings, and to the 
surprise of the gentlemen their presence was not found 
to be a restraint upon the conversation or amusement 
of the regular frequenters ; which could not be said of 
nil Clubs, I fancy. The ladies responded handsomely 
and hospitably to these overtures of peace, and both 
institutions nourished long and happily. 



CHAPTER IX. 

DAISY'S BALL. 

"TVT RS ' SHAKESPEARE SMITH would like to 
-IV I. have Mr. John Brooke, Mr. Thomas Bangs, 
and Mr. Nathaniel Blake to come to her ball at three 
o'clock to-day. 

" P.S. Nat must bring his fiddle, so we can dance, 
and all the boys must be good, or they cannot have any 
of the nice things we have cooked." 

O 

This elegant invitation would, I fear, have been de- 
clined, but for the hint given in the last line of the 
postscript. 

" They have been cooking lots of goodies, I smelt 'em. 
Let 's go," said Tommy. 

" We needn't stay after the feast, you know," added 
Demi. 

" I never went to a ball. What do you have to do r }: 
asked Nat. 

" Oh, we just play be men, and sit round stiff and 
stupid like grown-up folks, and dance to please the 
girls. Then we eat up every thing, and come away as 



soon as we can.' 1 



" I think I could do that," said Nat, after considering 
Tommy's description for a minute. 



DAISTS BALL 141 

"I'll write and say we '11 come ;" and Demi despatched 
the following gentlemanly reply 

" We will all come. Please have lots to eat. J. B. 
Esquire." 

Great was the anxiety of the ladies about their first 
ball, because if every thing went well they intended to 
give a dinner-party to the chosen few. 

" Aunt Jo likes to have the boys play with us, if they 
are not rough ; so we must make them like our balls, 
then they will do them good," said Daisy, with her 
maternal air, as she set the table and surveyed the store 
of refreshments with an anxious eye. 

"Demi and Nat will be good, but Tommy will do 
something bad, I know he will," replied Nan, shaking 
her head over the little cake-basket which she was 
arranging. 

"Then I shall send him right home," said Daisy, 
with decision. 

" People don't do so at parties, it isn't proper." 

" I shall never ask him any more." 

" That would do. He'd be sorry not to come to the 
dinner-ball, wouldn't he ? '' 

" I guess he would ! we '11 have the splendidest things 
ever seen, won't we? Real soup with a ladle and a 
tureem (she meant tureen) and a little bird for turkey, 
and gravy, and all kinds of nice vegytubbles." Daisy 
never could say vegetables properly, and had given up 
trying. 

" It is 'most three, and we ought to dress," said Nan, 
who had arranged a fine costume for the occasion, and 
was anxious to wear it. 

" I am the mother, so I shan't dress up much," said 



142 LITTLE MEN. 

Daisy, putting on a night-cap ornamented with a red 
bow, one of her Aunt's long skirts, and a shawl ; a 
pair of spectacles, and a large pocket handkerchief 
completed her toilette, making a plump, rosy, little 
matron of her. 

Nan had a wreath of artificial flowers, a pair of old 
pink slippers, a yellow scarf, a green muslin skirt, and 
a fan made of feathers from the duster ; also, as a last 
touch of elegance, a smelling-bottle without any smell 
in it. 

" I am the daughter, so I rig up a good deal, and I 
must sing and dance, and talk more than you do. 
The mothers only get the tea and be proper, you 
know." 

A sudden very loud knock caused Miss Smith to fly 
into a chair, and fan herself violently, while her mamma 
sat bolt upright on the sofa, and tried to look quite 
calm and " proper." Little Bess, who was on a visit, 
acted the part of maid, and opened the door, saying 
with a smile, " Wart in gemplemun, it 's all weady." 

In honor of the occasion, the boys wore high papet 
collars, tall black hats, and gloves of every color and 
material, for they were an afterthought, and not a boy 
among them had a perfect pair. 

" Good day, mum," said Demi, in a deep voice, which 
was so hard to keep up that his remarks had to be 
extremely brief. 

Every one shook hands and then sat down, looking 
so funny, yet so sober, that the gentlemen forgot their 
manners, and rolled in their chairs with laughter. 

" Oh don't ! " cried Mrs. Smith, much distressed. 

"You can't ever come again if you act so," added 



DAISY'S BALL. 143 

Miss Smith, rapping Mr. Bangs with her bottle because 
he laughed loudest. 

O 

" I can't help it, you look so like fury," gasped Mr. 
Bansfs, with most uncourteous candor. 

O 7 

" So do you, but I shouldn't be so rude as to say so 
He shan't come to the dinner-ball, shall he, Daisy ? Vl 
cried Nan, indignantly. 

" I think we had better dance now. Did you bring 
your fiddle, sir ? " asked Mrs. Smith, trying to preserve 
her polite composure. 

" It is outside the door," and Nat went to get it. 

"Better have tea first," proposed the unabashed 
Tommy, winking openly at Demi to remind him that 
the sooner the refreshments were secured the sooner 
they could escape. 

" No, we never have supper first ; and if you don't 
dance well you won't have any supper at all, not one bit, 
sir" said Mrs. Smith, so sternly that her wild guests 
saw she was not to be trifled with, and grew overwhelm- 
ingly civil all at once. 

"I will take Mr. Bangs and teach him the polka, 
for he does not know it fit to be seen," added the 
hostess, with a reproachful look that sobered Tommy 
at once. 

Nat struck up, and the ball opened with two couples, 
who went conscientiously through a somewhat varied 
dance. The ladies did well, because they liked it, but 
the gentlemen exerted themselves from more selfish 
motives, for each felt that he must earn his supper, and 
labored manfully toward that end. When every one 
was out of breath they were allowed to rest; and, 
indeed, poor Mrs. Smith needed it, for her long dress 



144 LITTLE MEN. 

had tripped her up many times. The little maid passed 
round molasses and water in such small cups that one 
guest actually emptied nine. I refrain from mention- 
ing his name, because this mild beverage affected him 
so much that he put cup and all into his mouth at the 
ninth round, and choked himself publicly. 

"You must ask Nan to play and sing now," said 
Daisy to her brother, who sat looking very much like 
an owl, as he gravely regarded the festive scene between 
his high collars. 

' Give us a song, mum," said the obedient guest, 
secretly wondering w T here the piano was. 

Miss Smith sailed up to an old secretary which stood 
in the room, threw back the lid of the writing-desk, 
and sitting down before it, accompanied herself with a 
vigor which made the old desk rattle as she sang that 
new and lovely song, beginning 

" Gaily the troubadour 
Touched his guitar, 
As he was hastening 
Home from the war." 

The gentlemen applauded so enthusiastically that 
she gave them " Bounding Billows," " Little Bo-Peep," 
and other gems of song, till they w T ere obliged to hint that 
they had had enough. Grateful for the praises bestowed 
upon her daughter, Mrs. Smith graciously announced 

"Now we T /ill have tea. Sit down carefully, and 
don't grab." 

It was beautiful to see the air of pride with which 
the good lady did the honors of her table, and the 
calmness with which phe bore the little mishaps that 



DAISTS BALL. 145 

occurred. The best pie flew wildly on to the floor 
when she tried to cut it with a very dull knife ; the 
bread and butter vanished with a rapidity calculated 
to dismay a housekeeper's soul ; and, worst of all, the 
custards were so soft that they had to be drunk up, 
instead of being eaten elegantly with the new tin 
spoons. 

I grieve to state that Miss Smith squabbled with the 
maid for the best jumble, which caused Bess to toss 
the whole dish into the air, and burst out crying amid a 
rain of falling cakes. She was comforted by a seat at 
the table, and the sugar-bowl to empty; but during 
this flurry a large plate of patties was mysteriously lost, 
and could not be found. They were the chief ornament 
of the feast, and Mrs. Smith was indignant at the loss, 
for she had made them herself, and they were beautiful 
to behold. I put it to any lady if it was not hard to 
have one dozen delicious patties (made of flour, salt, 
and water, with a large raisin in the middle of each, 
and much sugar over the whole) swept away at one fell 
swoop ? 

"You hid them, Tommy; I know you did!" cried 
the outraged hostess, threatening her suspected guest 
with the milk-pot. 

" I didn't ! " 

" You did ! " 

" It isn't proper to contradict," said Nan, who was 
hastily eating up the jelly during the fray. 

" Give them back, Demi," said Tommy. 

" That 's a fib, you Ve got them in your own pocket," 
bawled Demi, roused by the false accusation. 

" Let 's take 'em away from him. It 's too bad to 



146 LITTLE MEN. 

make Daisy cry," suggested Nat, who found his first ball 
more exciting than he expected. 

Daisy was already weeping, Bess like a devoted ser- 
vant mingled her tears with those of her mistress, and 
Nan denounced the entire race of boys as " plaguey 
things." Meanwhile the battle raged among the gentle- 
men, for, when the two defenders of innocence fell 
upon the foe, that hardened youth intrenched himself 
behind a table and pelted them with the stolen tarts-, 
which were very effective missiles, being nearly as hard 
as bullets. While his ammunition held out the besieged 
prospered, but the moment the last patty flew over the 
parapet, the villain was seized, dragged howling from 
the room, and cast upon the hall floor in an ignomini- 
ous heap. The conquerors then returned flushed with 
victory, and while Demi consoled poor Mrs. Smith, Nat 
and Nan collected the scattered tarts, replaced each 
raisin in its proper bed, and rearranged the dish so that 
it really looked almost as well as ever. But their glory 
had departed, for the sugar was gone, and no one cared 
to eat them after the insult offered to them. 

" I guess we had better go," said Demi, suddenly, as 
Aunt Jo's voice was heard on the stairs. 

" P'raps we had," and Nat hastily dropped a stray 
jumble that he had just picked up. 

But Mrs. Jo was among them before the retreat was 
accomplished, and into her sympathetic ear the young 
ladies poured the story of their woes. 

" No more balls for these boys till they have atoned 
for this bad behavior by doing something kind to you," 
said Mrs. Jo, shaking her head at the three culprits. 

" We were only in fun," began Demi. 



DAISTS BALL. 147 

" I don't like fun that makes other people unhappy. 
I am disappointed in you, Demi, for I hoped you would 
never learn to tease Daisy. Such a kind little sister as 
she is to you." 

" Boys always tease their sisters ; Tom says so," mut- 
tered Demi. 

" I don't intend that my boys shall, and I must send 
Daisy home if you cannot play happily together," said 
Aunt Jo, soberly. 

At this awful threat, Demi sidled up to his sister, 
and Daisy hastily dried her tears, for to be separated 
was the worst misfortune that could happen to the 
twins. 

" Nat was bad too, and Tommy was baddest of all," 
observed Nan, fearing that two of the sinners would 
not get their fair share of punishment. 

" I am sorry," said Nat, much ashamed. 

" I ain't ! " bawled Tommy through the keyhole, 
where he was listening, with all his might. 

Mrs. Jo wanted very much to laugh, but kept her 
countenance, and said impressively, as she pointed to 
the door 

" You can go, boys, but remember, you are not to 
speak to or play with the little girls till I give you leave. 
You don't deserve the pleasure, so I forbid it." 

The ill-mannered young gentlemen hastily retired to 
be received outside with derision and scorn by the un=> 
repentant Bangs, who would not associate with them 
for at least fifteen minutes. Daisy was soon consoled 
for the failure of her ball, but lamented the edict that 
parted her from her brother, and mourned over his 
short-comings in her tender little heart. Nan rather 



148 LITTLE MEN. 

enjoyed the trouble, and went about turning up her pug 
nose at the three, especially Tommy, who pretended 
not to care, and loudly proclaimed his satisfaction at 
being rid of those " stupid girls." But in his secret 
soul he soon repented of the rash act that caused this 
banishment from the society he loved, and every hour of 
separation taught him the value of the " stupid girls." 

The others gave in very soon, and longed to be 
friends, for now there was no Daisy to pet and cook 
for them; no Nan to amuse and doctor them; and, 
worst of all, no Mrs. Jo to make home pleasant and life 
easy for them. To their great affliction, Mrs. Jo seemed 
to consider herself one of the offended girls, for she 
hardly spoke to the outcasts, looked as if she did not 
see them when she passed, and was always too busy 
now to attend to their requests. This sudden and 
entire exile from favor cast a gloom over their souls, 
for when Mother Bhaer deserted them, their sun had 
set at noon-day, as it were, and they had no refuge 
left. 

This unnatural state of things actually lasted for 
three days, then they could bear it no longer, and fear- 
ing that the eclipse might become total, went to Mr. 
Bhaer for help and counsel. 

It is my private opinion that he had received instruc- 
tions how to behave if the case should be laid before 
him. But no one suspected it, and he gave the afflicted 
boys some advice, which they gratefully accepted and 
carried out in the following manner: 

^j 

Secluding themselves in the garret, they devoted 
several play-hours to the manufacture of some myste- 
rious machine, which took so much paste that Asia 



DAISTS BALL. 149 

grumbled, and the little girls wondered mightily. Nan 
nearly got her inquisitive nose pinched in the door, 
trying to see what was going on, and Daisy sat about, 
openly lamenting that they could not all play nicely 
together, and not have any dreadful secrets. Wednes- 
day afternoon was fine, and after a good deal of con- 
sultation about wind and weather, Nat and Tommy 
went ofi, bearing an immense flat parcel hidden under 
many newspapers. Nan nearly died with suppressed 
curiosity, Daisy nearly cried with vexation, and both 
quite trembled with interest when Demi marched into 
Mrs. Bhaer's room, hat in hand, and said, in the politest 
tone possible to a mortal boy of his years, 

" Please, Aunt Jo, would you and the girls come out 
to a surprise party we have made for you ? Do, it 's a 
very nice one." 

"Thank you, we will come with pleasure; only, I 
must take Teddy with me," replied Mrs. Bhaer, with 
a smile that cheered Demi like sunshine after rain. 

"We'd like to have him. The little wagon is all 
ready for the girls; and you won't mind walking just 
up to Pennyroyal Hill, will you, Aunty?" 

" I should like it exceedingly -, but are you quite sure 
I shall not be in the way ? " 

" Oh no, indeed ! we want you very much ; and the 
party will be spoilt if you don't come," cried Demi, with 
great earnestness. 

" Thank you kindly, sir ; " and Aunt Jo made him a 
grand curtsey, for she liked frolics as well as any of them. 

" Now, young ladies, we must not keep them waiting ; 
on with the hats, and let us be off at once. I 'm al] 
impatience to know what the surprise is." 



150 LITTLE MEN. 

As Mrs. Bhaer spoke every one bustled about, and 
in five minutes the three little girls and Teddy were 
packed into the "clothes-basket," as they called the 
wicker wagon which Toby drew. Demi walked at the 
head of the procession, and Mrs. Jo brought up the rear, 
escorted by Kit. It was a most imposing party, I assure 
you, for Toby had a red feather-duster in his head, two 
remarkable flags waved over the carriage, Kit had a 
blue bow on his neck, which nearly drove him wild, 
Demi wore a nosegay of dandelions in his buttonhole, 
and Mrs. Jo carried the queer Japanese umbrella in 
honor of the occasion. 

The girls had little flutters of excitement all the way ; 
and Teddy was so charmed with the drive that he kept 
dropping his hat overboard, and when it was taken from 
him he prepared to tumble out himself, evidently feel- 
ing; that it behooved him to do something for the amuse- 

O O 

ment of the party. 

When they came to the hill " nothing was to be seen 
but the grass blowing in the wind," as the fairy books 
gay, and the children looked disappointed. But Demi 
said, in his most impressive manner, 

" Now, you all get out and stand still, and the sur- 
prise party will come in ; " with which remark he re- 
tired behind a rock, over which heads had been bobbins: 

o 

at intervals for the last half-hour. 

A short pause of intense suspense, and then Nat, 
Demi, and Tommy marched forth, each bearing a new 
kite, which they presented to the three young ladies. 
Shrieks of delight arose, but were silenced by the boys, 
who said, with faces brimful of merriment, " That isn't 
all the surprise ; " and, running behind the rock again, 



DAISY'S BALL. 15] 

emerged bearing a fourth kite of superb size, on which 
was printed, in bright yellow letters, " For Mother 
Bhaer." 

" We thought you 'd like one too, because you were 
angry with us, and took the girls' part," cried all three, 
shaking with laughter, for this part of the affair evi- 
dently was a surprise to Mrs. Jo. 

She clapped her hands, and joined in the laugh, ' k 
looking thoroughly tickled at the joke. 

"Now boys, that is regularly splendid! Who did 
think of it?" she asked, receiving the monster kite 
with as much pleasure as the little girls did theirs. 

" Uncle Fritz proposed it when we planned to make 
the others ; he said you 'd like it, so we made a boun- 
cer,' 3 answered Demi, beaming with satisfaction at the 
success of the plot. 

"Uncle Fritz knows what I like. Yes, these are 
magnificent kites, and we were wishing we had some 
the other day when you were flying yours, weren't we, 
girls ? " 

" That 's why we made them for you," cried Tommy, 
standing on his head as the most appropriate way of 
expressing his emotions. 

" Let us fly them," said energetic Nan. 

" I don't know how," began Daisy. 

" We '11 show you, we want to ! " cried all the boys 
in a burst of devotion, as Demi took Daisy's, Tommy 
Nan's, and Nat, with difficulty, persuaded Bess to let 
go her little blue one. 

" Aunty, if you will wait a minute, we '11 pitch yours 
for you," said Demi, feeling that Mrs. Bhaer's favor 
must not be lost again by any neglect of theirs. 



152 LITTLE MEN. 

" Bless your buttons, dear, I know all about it ; and 
here is a boy who will toss up for me," added Mrs. Jo, as 
the professor peeped over the rock with a face full of fun. 

He came out at once, tossed up the big kite, and Mrs. 
Jo ran off with it in fine style, while the children stood 
and enjoyed the spectacle. One by one all the kites 
went up, and floated far overhead like gay birds, balanc- 
ing themselves on the fresh breeze that blew steadily 
over the hill. Such a merry time as they had ! running 
and shouting, sending up the kites or pulling them 
down, watching their antics in the air, and feeling them 
tug at the string like live creatures trying to escape. 
Nan was quite wild with the fun, Daisy thought the 
new play nearly as interesting as dolls, and little Bess 
was so fond of her " boo tite," that she would only let 
it go on very short flights, preferring to hold it in he* 
lap and look at the remarkable pictures painted on it 
by Tommy's dashing brush. Mrs. Jo enjoyed her? 
immensely, and it acted as if it knew who owned it. 
for it came tumbling down head first when least ex- 
pected, caught on trees, nearly pitched into the river, 
and finally darted away to such a height that it looked 
a mere speck among the clouds. 

By and by every one got tired, and fastening the 
kite strings to trees and fences, all sat down to rest, 
except Mr. Bhaer, who Avent off to look at the cows, 
with Teddy on his shoulder. 

" Did you ever have such a good time as this before ? " 
asked Nat, as they lay about on the grass, nibbling 
pennyroyal like a flock of sheep. 

" Not since I last flew a kite, years ago, when I was a 
girl," answered Mrs. Jo. 



DAISTS BALL. 153 

<c I M like to have known you when you were a girl, 
you must have been so jolly," said Nat. 

" I was a naughty little girl, I am sorry to say." 

" I like naughty little girls," observed Tommy, look- 
ing at Nan, who made a frightful grimace at him in 
return for the compliment. 

' Why don't I remember you then, Aunty ? Was I 
too young ? " asked Demi. 

" Rather, dear." 

" I suppose my memory hadn't come then. Grandpa 
says that different parts of the mind unfold as we grow 
up, and the memory part of my mind hadn't unfolded 
when you were little, so I can't remember how you 
looked," explained Demi. 

" Now, little Socrates, you had better keep that ques- 
tion for grandpa, it is beyond me," said Aunt Jo, put* 
ting on the extinguisher. 

" Well, I will, he knows about those things, and you 
don't," returned Demi, feeling that on the whole kites 
were better adapted to the comprehension of the pres- 
ent company. 

" Tell about the last time you flew a kite," said Nat, 
for Mrs. Jo had laughed as she spoke of it, and he 
thought it might be interesting. 

" Oh, it was only rather funny, for I was a great girl 
of fifteen, and was ashamed to be seen at such a play. 
So Uncle Teddy and I privately made our kites, and stole 
away to fly them. We had a capital time, and were 
resting as we are now, when suddenly we heard voices, 
and saw a party of young ladies and gentlemen coming 
back from a pic-nic. Teddy did not mind, though he 
was rather a large boy to be playing with a kite, but I 



154 LITTLE MEN. 

was in a great flurry, for I knew I should be sadly 
laughed at, and never hear the last of it, because my 
wild ways amused the neighbors as much as Nan's 
do us. 

" ' What shall I do ? ' I whispered to Teddy, as the 
voices drew nearer and nearer. 

"'I'll show you,' he said, and whipping out his 
knife he cut the strings. Away flew the kites, and when 
the people carne up we were picking flowers as properly 
as you please. They never suspected us, and we had a 
grand laugh over our narrow escape." 

" Were the kites lost, Aunty ? " asked Daisy. 

" Quite lost, but I did not care, for I made up my 
mind that it would be best to wait till I was an old 
lady before I played with kites again ; and you see I 
have waited," said Mrs. Jo, beginning to pull in the big 
kite, for it was getting late. 

" Must we go now ? r 

"I must, or you won't have any supper; and that 
sort of surprise party would not suit you, I think, my 
chickens." 

" Hasn't our party been a nice one ? " asked Tommy, 
complacently. 

" Splendid ! " answered every one. 

" Do you know why ? It is because your guests have 
behaved themselves, and tried to make every thing go 
well. You understand what I mean, don't you ? " 

" Yes 'm," was all the boys said, but they stole a 
shamefaced look at one another, as they meekly shoul- 
dered their kites and walked home, thinking of another 
party where the guests had not behaved themselves, 
and things had gone badly on account of it. 



CHAPTER X. 

HOME AGAIN. 

JULY had come, and haying begun ; the little gar- 
dens were doing finely, and the long summer days 
were full of pleasant hours. The house stood open 
from morning till night, and the lads lived out of doors, 
except at school time. The lessons were short, and 
there were many holidays, for the Bhaers believed in 
cultivating healthy bodies by much exercise, and our 
short summers are best used in out-of-door work. Such 
.* rosy, sunburnt, hearty set as the boys became ; such 
appetites as they had ; such sturdy arms and legs, as 
outgrew jackets and trousers; such laughing and racing 
all over the place ; such antics in house and barn ; such 
adventures in the tramps over hill and dale ; and such 
satisfaction in the hearts of the worthy Bhaers, as they 
saw their flock prospering in mind and body, I cannot 
begin to describe. Only one thing was needed to make 
them quite happy, and it came when they least ex- 
pected it. 

One balmy night when the little lads were in bed, the 
elder ones bathing down at the brook, and Mrs. Bhaer 
undressing Teddy in her parlor, he suddenly cried 
out, " Oh, my Danny ! v and pointed to the window/ 
where the moon shone brightly. 



156 LITTLE MEN. 

" No, lovey, he is not there, it was the pretty moon," 
said his mother. 

" No, no, Danny at a window ; Teddy saw him," per- 
sisted baby, much excited. 

" It might have been," and Mrs. Bhaer hurried to the 
window, hoping it would prove true. But the face 
was gone, and nowhere appeared any signs of a mortal 
boy ; she called his name, ran to the front door with 
Teddy in his little shirt, and made him call too, think- 
ing the baby voice might have more effect than her 
own. No one answered, nothing appeared, and they 
went back much disappointed. Teddy would not be 
satisfied with the moon, and after he was in his crib 
kept popping up his head to ask if Danny was not 
" tummin' soon." 

By and by he fell asleep, the lads trooped up to bed, 
the house grew still, and nothing but the chirp of the 
crickets broke the soft silence of the summer nio-ht, 

O 

Mrs. Bhaer sat sewing, for the big basket was always 
piled with socks, full of portentous holes, and thinking 
of the lost boy. She had decided that baby had been 
mistaken, and did not even disturb Mr. Bhaer by telling 
him of the child's fancy, for the poor man got little time 
to himself till the boys were abed, and he was busy 
writing letters. It was past ten when she rose to shut 
up the house. As she paused a minute to enjoy the 
lovely scene from the steps, something white caught her 
eye on one of the hay-cocks scattered over the lawn. 
The children had been playing there all the afternoon, 
and, fancying that Nan had left her hat as usual, Mrs. 
Bhaer went out to get it. But as she approached, she 
saw that it was neither hat nor handkerchief, but a 



HOME AGAIN. 157 

shirt sleeve with a brown hand sticking out of it. She 
hurried round the hay-cock, and there lay Dan, fast 
asleep. 

Ragged, dirty, thin, and worn-out he looked ; one 
foot was bare, the other tied up in the old gingham 
jacket which he had taken from his own back to use as 
a clumsy bandage for some hurt. He seemed to have 
hidden himself behind the hay-cock, but in his sleep 
had thrown out the arm that had betrayed him. He 
sighed and muttered as if his dreams disturbed him, and 
once when he moved, he groaned as if in pain, but still 
slept on quite spent with weariness. 

" He must not lie here," said Mrs. Bhaer, and stoop- 
ing over him she gently called his name. He opened 
his eyes and looked at her, as if she was a part of his 
dream, for he smiled and said drowsily, " Mother Bhaer, 
I Ve come home." 

The look, the words touched her very much, and she 
put her hand under his head to lift him up, saying in 
her cordial way 

" I thought you would, and I 'm so glad to see you, 
Dan." He seemed to wake thoroughly then, and started 
lip looking about him as if he suddenly remembered 
where he was, and doubted even that kind welcome. 
His face changed, and he said in his old rough way 

" I was going off in the morning. I only stopped to 
peek in, as I went by." 

" But why not come in, Dan ? Didn't you hear us 
call you ? Teddy saw, and cried for you." 

" Didn't suppose you 'd let me in," he said, fumbling 
with a little bundle which he had taken up as if going 
immediately. 



158 LITTLE MEN. 

" Try and see," was all Mrs. Bhaer answered, holding 
out her hand and pointing to the door, where the light 
shone hospitably. 

With a long breath, as if a load was off his mind, 
Dan took up a stout stick, and began to limp towards 
the house, but stopped suddenly, to say inquiringly 

" Mr. Bhaer won't like it. I ran away from Page." 

"He knows it, and was sorry, but it. will make no 
difference. Are you lame? " asked Mrs. Jo, as he limped 
on again. 

" Getting over a wall a stone fell on my foot and 
smashed it. I don't mind," and he did his best to hide 
the pain each step cost him. 

Mrs. Bhaer helped him into her own room, and, once 
there, he dropped into a chair, and laid his head back, 
white and faint with weariness and suffering. 

" My poor Dan ! drink this, and then eat a little ; you 
are at home now, and Mother Bhaer will take good care 
of you." 

He only looked up at her with eyes full of gratitude, 
as he drank the wine she held to his lips, and then be- 
gan slowly to eat the food she brought him. Each 
mouthful seemed to put heart into him, and presently 
he be<ran to talk as if anxious to have her know all 

O 

about him. 

" Where have you been, Dan ? " she asked, beginning 
to get out some bandages. 

" I ran off more 'n a month ago. Page was good 
enough, but too strict. I didn't like it, so I cut away 
down the river with a man who was going in his boat. 
That 's why they couldn't tell where I 'd gone. When 
I left the man, I worked for a couple of weeks with a 



HOME AGAIN. 159 

farmer, but I thrashed his boy, and then the old man 
thrashed me, and I ran off again and walked here." 

"All the way?" 

" Yes, the man didn't pay me, and I wouldn't ask for 
it. Took it out in beating the boy," and Dan laughed, 
yet looked ashamed, as he glanced at his ragged clothes 
and dirty hands. 

" How did you live ? It was a long, long tramp for a 
boy like you." 

" Oh, I got on well enough, till I hurt my foot. Folks 
gave me things to eat, and I slept in barns and tramped 
by day. I got lost trying to make a short cut, or I 'd 
have been here sooner." 

" But if you did not mean to come in and stay with 
us, what were you going to do ? " 

" I thought I 'd like to see Teddy again, and you ; 
and then I was going back to my old work in the city, 
only I was so tired I went to sleep on the hay. I 'd 
have been gone in the morning, if you hadn't found 



me." 



" Are you sorry I did ? " and Mrs. Jo looked at him 
with a half merry, half reproachful look, as she knelt 
down to look at his wounded foot. 

The color came up into Dan's face, and he kept his 
eyes fixed on his plate, as he said very low, " No, ma'am, 
I 'm glad, I wanted to stay, but I was afraid you " 

He did not finish, for Mrs. Bhaer interrupted him bj 
an exclamation of pity, as she saw his foot, for it was 
seriously hurt. 

"When did you do it?" 

" Three days ago." 

" And you have walked on it in this state ? " 



160 LITTLE MEN. 

I had a stick, and I washed it at every brook I came 
to, and one woman gave me a rag to put on it." 

" Mr. Bhaer must see and dress it at once," and Mrs. 
Jo hastened into the next room, leaving the door ajar 
behind her, so that Dan heard all that passed. 

" Fritz, that boy has come back." 

"Who? Dan'/" 

" Yes, Teddy saw him at the window, and we called 
to him, but he went awav and hid behind the hav-cocks 

t V 

on the lawn. I found him there just now fast asleep, 
and half dead with weariness and pain. He ran away 
from Pao-e a month a^o, and has been making his wav 

* 

to us ever since. He pretends that he did not mean to 
let us see him, but go on to the city, and his old "work, 
after a look at us. It is evident, however, that the hope 
of being taken in has led him here throuo-h every thins:, 

^j d/ *' d/ y 

and there he is waiting to know if you will forgive and 
take him back." 

"Did he say so?" 

"His eyes did, and when I waked him, he said, like 
a lost child, ' Mother Bhaer, I Ye come home.' I hadn't 
the heart to scold him, and just took him in like a poor 
little black sheep come back to the fold. I may keep 
him, Fritz ? " 

" Of course you may ! This proves to me that we 
have a hold on the bov's heart, and I would no more 

w 

send him awav now than I would mv own Rob." 

V * 

Dan heard a soft little sound, as if Mrs. Jo thanked 
her husband without words, and, in the instant's silence 
that followed, two great tears that had slowly gathered 
in the boy's eyes brimmed over and rolled down his 

V 

Pusty cheeks. No one saw them, for he brushed them 



HOME AGAIN. 161 

hastily away ; but in that little pause I think Dan's old 
distrust for these good people vanished for ever, the 
soft spot in his heart was touched, and he felt an 
impetuous desire to prove himself worthy of the love 
and pity that was so patient and forgiving. He said 
nothing, he only wished the wish with all his might, 
resolved to try in his blind boyish way, and sealed his 
resolution with the tears which neither pain, fatigue, 
nor loneliness could wring from him. 

"Come and see his foot. I am afraid it is badly 
hurt, for he has kept on three days through heat and 
dust, with nothing but water and an old jacket to bind 
it up with. I tell you, Fritz, that boy is a brave lad, 
and will make a fine man yet." 

" I hope so, for your sake, enthusiastic woman, your 
faith deserves success. Now, I will go and see your 
little Spartan. Where is he ? J! 

"In my room ; but, dear, you '11 be very kind to him, 
no matter how gruff he seems. I am sure that is the 
way to conquer him. He won't bear sternness nor 
much restraint, but a soft word and infinite patience 
will lead him as it used to lead me." 

"As if you ever were like this little rascal!" cried 
Mr. Bhaer, laughing, yet half angry at the idea. 

" I was in spirit, though I showed it in a different 
way. I seem to know by instinct how he feels, to 
understand what will win and touch him, and to sym- 
pathize with his temptations and faults. I am glad I 
do, for it will help me to help him ; and if I can make 
a good man of this wild boy, it will be the best work 
of rny life." 

" God bless the work, and help the worker ! " 

11 



162 LITTLE MEN. 

Mr. Bhaer spoke now as earnestly as she had done, 
and both came in together to find Dan's head down 
upon his arm, as if he was quite overcome by sleep. 
But he looked up quickly, and tried to rise as Mr. 
Bhaer said pleasantly 

"So you like Plumfield better than Page's farm. 
Well, let us see if we can get on more comfortably this 
time than we did before." 

" Thanky, sir," said Dan, trying not to be gruff, and 
finding it easier than he expected. 

" Now, the foot ! Ach ! this is not well. We must 
have Dr. Firth to-morrow. Warm water, Jo, and old 
linen." 

Mr. Bhaer bathed and bound up the wounded foot, 
while Mrs. Jo prepared the only empty bed in the 
house. It was in the little guest-chamber leading from 
the parlor, and often used when the lads were poorly, 
for it saved Mrs. Jo from running up and down, and 
the invalids could see what was going on. When it 
was ready, Mr. Bhaer took the boy in his arms, and 
carried him in, helped him undress, laid him on the 
little white bed, and left him with another hand-shake, 
and a fatherly " Good-night, my son." 

Dan dropped asleep at once, and slept heavily for 
several hours ; then his foot began to throb and ache, 
and he awoke to toss about uneasily, trying not to 
groan lest any one should hear him, for he was a brave 
lad, and did bear pain like " a little Spartan," as Mr. 
Bhaer called him. 

Mrs. Jo had a way of flitting about the house at 
night, to shut the windows if the wind grew chilly, to 
draw mosquito curtains over Teddy, or look after 




"Mr. Bhaer bathed and bound up the wounded foot, while Mrs. Jo prepared 
the only empty bed in the house." PAGE 162. 



HOME AGAIN . 163 

Tommy, who occasionally walked in his sleep. The 
least noise waked her, and as she often heard imaginary 
robbers, cats, and conflagrations, the doors stood open 
all about, so her quick ear caught the sound of Dan's 
little moans, and she was up in a minute. He was 
just giving his hot pillow a despairing thump when a 
light came glimmering through the hall, and Mrs. Jo 
crept in, looking like a droll ghost, with her hair in a 
great knob on the top of her head, and a long gray 
dressing-gown trailing behind her. 

" Are you in pain, Dan ? " 

" It 's pretty bad ; but I didn't mean to wake you." 

" I 'm a sort of owl, always flying about at night. 
Yes, your foot is like fire ; the bandages must be wet 
again," and away flapped the maternal owl for more 
cooling stuff, and a great mug of ice water. 

"Oh, that's so nice!" sighed Dan, as the wet band- 
ages went on again, and a long draught of water 
cooled his thirsty throat. 

" There, now, sleep your best, and don't be fright- 
ened if you see me again, for I '11 slip down by and by, 
and give you another sprinkle." 

As she spoke, Mrs. Jo stooped to turn the pillow 
and smooth the bed-clothes, when, to her great surprise, 
Dan put his arm round her neck, drew her face down 
to his, and kissed her, with a broken "Thank you, 
ma'am," which said more than the most eloquent speech 
could have done ; for the hasty kiss, the muttered words, 
meant, " I 'm sorry, I will try." She understood it, ac- 
cepted the unspoken confession, and did not spoil it by 
any token of surprise. She only remembered that he 
had no mother, kissed the brown cheek half hidden OD 



164 LITTLE MEN. 

the pillow, as if ashamed of that little touch of tender- 
ness, and left him, saying, what he long remembered, 
<k You are my boy now, and if you choose you can make 
me proud and glad to say so." 

Once again, just at dawn, she stole down to find him 
so fast asleep that he did not wake, and showed no sign 
of consciousness as she wet his foot, except that the 
lines of pain smoothed themselves away, and left his 
face quite peaceful. 

The day was Sunday, and the house so still that he 
never waked till near noon, and, looking round him, 
saw an eager little face peering in at the door. He 
held out his arms, and Teddy tore across the room to 
cast himself bodily upon the bed, shouting, " My Dan- 
ny 's turn ! " as he hugged and wriggled with delight. 
Mrs. Bhaer appeared next, bringing breakfast, and nev- 
er seeming to see how shamefaced Dan looked at the 
memory of the little scene last night. Teddy insisted 
on giving him his " betfus," and fed him like a baby, 
which, as he was not very hungry, Dan enjoyed very 
much. 

Then came the doctor, and the poor Spartan had a 
bad time of it, for some of the little bones of his foot 
were injured, and putting them to rights was such a 
painful job, that Dan's lips were white, and great drops 
stood on his forehead, though he never cried out, and 
only held Mrs. Jo's hand so tight that it was red long 
afterwards. 

" You must keep this boy quiet, for a week at least, 
and not let him put his foot to the ground. By that 
time, I shall know whether he may hop a little with a 
crutch, or stick to his bed for a while longer," said Dr. 



HOME AGAIN. 165 

Firth, putting up the shining instruments that Dan did 
not like to see. 

"It will get well sometime, won't it?" he asked, 
looking alarmed at the word " crutches." 

" I hope so ; " and with that the doctor departed, 
leaving Dan much depressed ; for the loss of a foot is a 
dreadful calamity to an active boy. 

" Don't be troubled, I am a famous nurse, and we will 
have you tramping about as well as ever in a month," 
said Mrs. Jo, taking a hopeful view of the case. 

But the fear of being lame haunted Dan, and even 
Teddy's caresses did not cheer him; so Mrs. Jc pro- 
posed that one or two of the boys should come in and 
pay him a little visit, and asked whom he would like 
to see. 

" Nat and Demi ; I 'd like my hat too, there 's some- 
thing in it I guess they 'd like to see. I suppose you 
threw away my bundle of plunder ? " said Dan, looking 
rather anxious as he put the question. 

" No, I kept it, for I thought they must be treasures 
of some kind, you took such care of them ; " and Mrs. 
Jo brought him his old straw hat stuck full of butter- 
flies and beetles, and a handkerchief containing a col- 
lection of odd things picked up on his way : birds' eggs, 
carefully done up in moss, curious shells and stones, 
bits of fungus, and several little crabs, in a state of 
great indignation at their imprisonment. 

"Could I have something to put these fellers in? 
Mr. Hyde and I found 'em, and they are first-rate ones, 
so I 'd like to keep and watch 'em ; can I ? " asked Dan, 
forgetting his foot, and laughing to see the crabs go 
sidling and backing over the bed. 



166 LITTLE MEN. 

"Of course you can; Polly's old cage will be just the 
thing. Don't let them nip Teddy's toes while I get it ; " 
and away went Mrs. Jo, leaving Dan overjoyed to find 
that his treasures were not considered rubbish, and 
thrown away. 

Nat, Demi, and the cage arrived together, and the 
crabs were settled in their new house, to the great de* 
light of the boys, who, in the excitement of the per- 
formance, forgot any awkwardness they might otherwise 
have felt in greeting the runaway. To these admiring 
listeners Dan related his adventures much more fully 
than he had done to the Bhaers. Then he displayed 
his " plunder," and described each article so well, that 
Mrs. Jo, who had retired to the next room to leave them 
free, was surprised and interested, as well as amused, at 
their boyish chatter. 

" How much the lad knows of these things ! how ab- 
sorbed he is in them! and what a mercy it is just now, 
for he cares so little for books, it would be hard to amuse 
him while he is laid up ; but the boys can supply him 
with beetles and stones to any extent, and I am glad to 
find out this taste of his ; it is a good one, and may per- 
haps prove the making of him. If he should turn out a 
great naturalist, and Nat a musician, I should have cause 
to be proud of this year's work ; " and Mrs. Jo sat smiling 
over her book as she built castles in the air, just as she 
used to do when a girl, only then they were for herself, 
and now they were for other people, which is the reason 
perhaps that some of them came to pass in reality 
for charity is an excellent foundation to build any thing 
apon. 

Nat was most interested in the adventures, but Demi 



HOME AGAIN. 167 

enjoyed the beetles and butterflies immensely, drinking 
in the history of their changeful little lives as if it were 
a new and lovely sort of fairy tale for, even in his 
plain way, Dan told it well, and found great satisfaction 
in the thought that here at least the small philosopher 
could learn of him. So interested were they in the ac- 
count of catching a musk rat, whose skin was among 
the treasures, that Mr. Bhaer had to come himself to 
tell Nat and Demi it was time for the walk. Dan 
looked so wistfully after them as they ran oif, that 
Father Bhaer proposed carrying him to the sofa in the 
parlor for a little change of air and scene. 

When he was established, and the house quiet, Mrs. 
Jo, who sat near by showing Teddy pictures, said, in 
an interested tone, as she nodded towards the treasures 
still in Dan's hands 

" Where did you learn so much about these things ? " 

" I always liked 'em, but didn't know much till Mr. 
Hyde told me." 

" Who was Mr. Hyde ? " 

" Oh, he was a man who lived round in the woods 
studying these things I don't know what you call 
him and wrote about frogs, and fishes, and so on. 
He stayed at Page's, and used to want me to go and 
help him, and it was great fun, 'cause he told me ever 
so much, and was uncommon jolly and wise. Hope 
I'll see him again sometime." 

" I hope you will," said Mrs. Jo, for Dan's face had 
brightened up, and he was so interested in the matter 
that he forgot his usual taciturnity. 

" Why, he could make birds come to him, and rabbits 
and squirrels didn't mind him any more than if he was 



168 LITTLE MEN. 

a tree. He never hurt 'em, and they seemed to know 
him. Did you ever tickle a lizard with a straw?" 
asked Dan, eagerly. 

"No, but I should like to try it." 

" Well, I 've done it, and it 's so funny to see 'em turn 
over and stretch out, they like it so much. Mr. Hyde 
used to do it; and he'd make snakes listen to him 
while he whistled, and he knew just when certain 
flowers would blow, and bees wouldn't sting him, and 
he 'd tell the wonderfullest things about fish and flies, 
and the Indians and the rocks." 

" I think you were so fond of going w T ith Mr. Hyde, 
you rather neglected Mr. Page," said Mrs. Jo, slyly. 

" Yes, I did ; I hated to have to weed and hoe when 
I might be tramping round with Mr. Hyde. Page 
thought such things silly, and called Mr. Hyde crazy 
because he 'd lay hours watching a trout or a bird." 

" Suppose you say lie instead of lay, it is better gram- 
mar," said Mrs. Jo, very gently ; and then added, " Yes, 
Page is a thorough farmer, and would not understand 
that a naturalist's work was just as interesting, and per- 
haps just as important as his own. Now, Dan, if you 
really love these things, as I think you do, and I am 
glad to see it, you shall have time to study them and 
books to help you ; but I want you to do something 
besides, and to do it faithfully, else you will be sorry 
by and by, and find that you have got to begin 
again." 

" Yes, ma'am," said Dan, meekly, and looked a little 
scared by the serious tone of the last remarks, for he 
hated books, yet had evidently made up his mind to 
study any thing she proposed. 



HOME AGAIN. 169 

"Do you see that cabinet with twelve drawers in 
it ? " was the next very unexpected question. 

Dan did see two tall old-fashioned ones standing on 
either side of the piano ; he knew them well, and had 
often seen nice bits of string, nails, brown paper, and 
such useful matters come out of the various drawers. 
He nodded and smiled. Mrs. Jo went on 

" Well, don't you think those drawers would be good 
places to put your eggs, and stones, and shells, and 
lichens?" ' 

" Oh, splendid but you wouldn't like my things 
'clutterin' round,' as Mr. Page used to say, would 
you ? " cried Dan, sitting up to survey the old piece of 
furniture with sparkling eyes. 

" I like litter of that sort ; and if I didn't, I should 
give you the drawers, because I have a regard for chil- 
dren's little treasures, and think they should be treated 
respectfully. Now, I am going to make a bargain with 
you, Dan, and I hope you will keep it honorably. Here 
are twelve good-sized drawers, one for each month of 
the year, and they shall be yours as fast as you earn 
them, by doing the little duties that belong to you. I 
believe in rewards of a certain kind, especially for 
young folks ; they help us along, and though we may 
begin by being good for the sake of the reward, if it is 
rightly used, we shall soon learn to love goodness for 
itself." 

" Do you have 'em ? " asked Dan, looking as if this 
was new talk for him. 

"Yes, indeed! I haven't learnt to get on without 
them yet. My rewards are not drawers, or presents, or 
holidays, but they are things which I like as much as 



170 LITTLE MEN. 

you do the others. The good behavior and success of 
my boys is one of the rewards I love best, and I work 
for it as I want you to work for your cabinet. Do 
what you dislike, and do it well, and you get two re- 
wards one, the prize you see and hold ; the other, the 
satisfaction of a duty cheerfully performed. Do you 
understand that ? " 

"Yes, ma'am." 

" We all need these little helps 4 , so you shall try to 
do your lessons and your work, play kindly with all the 
boys, and use your holidays well ; and if you bring me 
a good report, or if I see and know it without words 
for I 'm quick to spy out the good little efforts of my 
boys you shall have a compartment in the drawer for 
your treasures. See, some are already divided into 
four parts, and I will have the others made in the same 
way, a place for each week ; and when the drawer is 
filled with curious and pretty things, I shall be as proud 
of it as you are ; prouder, I think for in the pebbles, 
mosses, and gay butterflies, I shall see good resolutions 
carried out, conquered faults, and a promise well kept. 
Shall we do this, Dan?" 

The boy answered with one of the looks which said 
much, for it showed that he felt and understood her 
wish and words, although he did not know how to 
express his interest and gratitude for such care and 
kindness. She understood the look, and seeing by the 
color that flushed up to his forehead that he was 
touched, as she wished him to be, she said no more 
about that side of the new plan, but pulled out the 
upper drawer, dusted it, and set it on two chairs before 
the sofa, saying briskly 



HOME AGAIN. 171 

"Now, let us begin at once by putting those nice 
beetles in a safe place. These compartments will hold 
a good deal, you see. I 'd pin the butterflies and bugs 
round the sides ; they will be quite safe there, and 
leave room for the heavy things below. I '11 give you 
some cotton wool, and clean paper and pins, and you 
can get ready for the week's work." 

"But I can't go out to find any new things," said 
Dan, looking piteously at his foot. 

" That 's true ; never mind, we '11 let these treasures 
do for this week, and I dare say the boys will bring you 
loads of things if you ask them." 

" They don't know the right sort ; besides, if I lay, 
no, lie here all the time, I can't work and study, and 
earn my drawers." 

"There are plenty of lessons you can learn lying 
there, and several little jobs of work you can do for 



me." 



" Can I ? " and Dan looked both surprised and 
pleased. 

" You can learn to be patient and cheerful in spite 
of pain and no play. You can amuse Teddy for me, 
wind cotton, read to me when I sew, and do many 
things without hurting your foot, which will make the 
days pass quickly, and not be wasted ones." 

Here Demi ran in with a great butterfly in one hand, 
and a very ugly little toad in the other. 

" See, Dan, I found them, and ran back to give them 
to you ; aren't they beautiful ones ? " panted Demi, all 
out of breath. 

Dan laughed at the toad, and said he had no place to 
put him, but the butterfly was a beauty, and if Mrs. Jo 



172 LITTLE MEN. 

f 

would give him a big pin, he would stick it right up in 
the drawer. 

" I don't like to see the poor thing struggle on a pin ; 
if it must be killed, let us put it out of pain at once 
with a drop of camphor," said Mrs. Jo, getting out the 
bottle. 

" I know how to do it Mr. Hyde always killed 'em 
ihat way but I didn't have any camphor, so I use a 
pin," and Dan gently poured a drop on the insect's head, 
when the pale green wings fluttered an instant, and 
then grew still. 

This dainty little execution was hardly over when 
Teddy shouted from the bedroom, " Oh, the little trabs 
are out, and the big one 's eaten 'em all up." Demi and 
his aunt ran to the rescue, and found Teddy dancing 
excitedly in a chair, while two little crabs were scuttling 
about the floor, having got through the wires of the 
cage. A third was clinging to the top of the cage, 
evidently in terror of his life, for below appeared a sad 
yet funny sight. The big crab had wedged himself 
into the little recess where Polly's cup used to stand, 
and there he sat eating one of his relations in the 
coolest way. All the claws of the poor victim were 
pulled off, and he was turned upside down, his upper 
shell held in one claw close under the mouth of the big 
crab like a dish, while he leisurely ate out of it with 
the other claw, pausing now and then to turn his queer 
bulging eyes from side to side, and to put out a slender 
tongue and lick them in a way that made the children 
scream with laughter. Mrs. Jo carried the cage in for 
Dan to see the sight, while Demi caught and 
the wanderers under an inverted wash-bowl. 



HOME AGAIN. 173 

" I '11 have to let these fellers go, for I can't keep 'em 
in the house," said Dan, with evident regret. 

" I '11 take care of them for you, if you will tell me 
how, and they can live in my turtle-tank just as well as 
not," said Demi, who found them more interesting even 
than his beloved slow turtles. So Dan gave him direc- 
tions about the wants and habits of the crabs, and 
Demi bore them away to introduce them to their new 
home and neighbors. " What a good boy he is ! " 
said Dan, carefully settling the first butterfly, and re- 
membering that Demi had given up his walk to bring 
it to him. 

" He ought to be, for a great deal has been done to 
make him so." 

" He 's had folks to tell him things, and to help him ; 
I haven't," said Dan, with a sigh, thinking of his neg- 
lected childhood, a thing he seldom did, and feeling as 
if he had not had fair play somehow. 

" I know it, dear, and for that reason I don't expect 
as much from you as from Demi, though he is younger ; 
you shall have all the help that we can give you now, 
and I hope to teach you how to help yourself in the 
best way. Have you forgotten what Father Bhaer told 
you when you were here before, about wanting to be 
good, and asking God to help you ? " 

" No, ma'am," very low. 

" Do you try that way still ? " 

" No, ma'am," lower still. 

" Will you do it every night to please me ? " 

" Yes, ma'am," very soberly. 

" I shall depend on it, and I think I shall know if 
you are faithful to your promise, for these things always 



174 LITTLE MEN. 

show to people who believe in them, though not a word 
is said. Now here is a pleasant story about a boy who 
hurt his foot worse than you did yours; read it, and 
see how bravely he bore his trouble." 

She put that charming little book, "The Crofton 
Boys," into his hands, and left him for an hour, passing 
in and out from time to time that he might not feel 
lonely. Dan did not love to read, but soon got so in- 
terested that he was surprised when the boys came 
home. Daisy brought him a nosegay of wild flowers, 
and Nan insisted on helping bring him his supper, as 
he lay on the sofa with the door open into the dining- 
room, so that he could see the lads at table, and they 
could nod sociably to him over their bread and butter. 

Mr. Bhaer carried him away to his bed early, and 
Teddy came in his night-gown to say good-night, for 
he went to his little nest with the birds. 

" I want to say my prayers to Danny ; may I ? " he 
asked; and when his mother said "Yes," the little 
fellow knelt down by Dan's bed, and folding his chubby 
hands, said softly 

"Pease Dod bess everybody, and hep me to be 
dood." 

Then he went away smiling with sleepy sweetness 
over his mother's shoulder. 

But after the evening talk was done, the evening 
song sung, and the house grew still with beautiful 
Sunday silence, Dan lay in his pleasant room wide 
awake, thinking new thoughts, feeling new hopes and 
desires stirring in his boyish heart, for two good angels 
had entered in : love and gratitude began the work 
which time and effort were to finish; and with an 



HOME AGAIN. 175 

earnest wish to keep his first promise, Dan folded his 
hands together in the darkness, and softly whispered 
Teddy's little prayer 

"Please God bless every one, and help me to be 
good." 



CHAPTER XI. 

UNCLE TEDDY. 

FOR a week Dan only moved from bed to sofa; a 
long week and a hard one, for the hurt foot was 
very painful at times, the quiet days very wearisome to 
the active lad, longing to be out enjoying the summer 
weather, and especially difficult was it to be patient. 
But Dan did his best, and every one helped him in their 
various ways ; so the time passed, and he was rewarded 
at last by hearing the doctor say, on Saturday morning 

"This foot is doing better than I expected. Give 
the lad the crutch this afternoon, and let him stump 
about the house a little." 

" Hooray ! " shouted Nat, and raced away to tell the 
other boys the good news. 

Everybody was very glad, and after dinner the whole 
flock assembled to behold Dan crutch himself up and 
down the hall a few times before he settled in the porch 
to hold a sort of levee. He was much pleased at the 
interest and good-will shown him, and brightened up 
more and more every minute ; for the boys came to pay 
their respects, the little girls fussed about him with 
stools and cushions, and Teddy watched over him as if 
he was a frail creature unable to do any thing for him- 



UNCLE TEDDY. 177 

self. They were still sitting and standing about the 
steps, when a carriage stopped at the gate, a hat was 
waved from it, and with a shout of " Uncle Teddy ! 
Uncle Teddy ! " Rob scampered down the avenue as 
fast as his short legs would cany him. All the boys 
but Dan ran after him to see who should be first to open 
the gate, and in a moment the carriage drove up with 
boys swarming all over it, while Uncle Teddy sat 
laughing in the midst, with his little daughter on his 
knee. 

" Stop the triumphal car and let Jupiter descend," he 
said, and jumping out ran up the steps to meet Mrs. 
Bhaer, who stood smiling and clapping her hands like a 
girl. 

"How goes it, Teddy?" 

"All right, Jo." 

Then they shook hands, and Mr. Laurie put Bess into 
her aunt's arms, saying, as the child hugged her tight, 
" Goldilocks wanted to see you so much that I ran away 
with her, for I was quite pining for a sight of you my- 
6elf. We want to play with your boys for an hour or 
so, and to see how ' the old woman who lived in a shoe, 
and had so many children she did not know what to 
do,' is getting on." 

" I 'm so glad ! Play away, and don't get into mis- 
chief," answered Mrs. Jo, as the lads crowded round 
the pretty child, admiring her long golden hair, dainty 
dress, and lofty ways, for the little " Princess," as they 
called her, allowed no one to kiss her, but sat smiling down 
upon them, and graciously patting their heads with her 
little, white hands. They all adored her, especially Rob } 
who considered her a sort of doll, and dared not toucL 

12 



178 LITTLE MEN. 

her lest she should break, but worshipped her at a re- 
spectful distance, made happy by an occasional mark of 
favor from her little highness. As she immediately 
demanded to see Daisy's kitchen, she was borne off by 
Mrs. Jo, with a train of small boys following. The 
others, all but Nat and Demi, ran away to the menagerie 
and gardens to have all in order ; for Mr. Laurie always 
took a general survey, and looked disappointed if things 
were not flourishing. 

Standing on the steps, he turned to Dan, saying like 
an old acquaintance, though he had only seen him once 
or twice before 

"How is the foot?" 

"Better, sir." 

" Rather tired of the house aren't you ? " 

" Guess I am ! ' : and Dan's eyes roved away to the 
green hills and woods where he longed to be. 

" Suppose we take a little turn before the others come 
back ? That big, easy carriage will be quite safe and 
comfortable, and a breath of fresh air will do you good. 
Get a cushion and a shawl, Demi, and let 's carry Dan 
off." 

The boys thought it a capital joke, and Dan looked 
delighted, but asked, with an unexpected burst of 
virtue 

Will Mrs. Bhaer like it ? " 

" Oh, yes ; we settled all that a minute ago." 

" You didn't say any thing about it, so I don't see how 
foil could," said Demi, inquisitively. 

" We have a way of sending messages to one another, 
without any words. It is a great improvement on the 
telegraph." 



UNCLE TEDDY. 179 

" I know it 's eyes ; I saw you lift your eyebrows, 
and nod toward the carriage, and Mrs. Bhaer laughed 
and nodded back again," cried Nat, who was quite at 
his ease with kind Mr. Laurie by this time. 

" Right. Now then, come on," and in a minute Dan 
found himself settled in the carriage, his foot on a cush- 
ion on the seat opposite, nicely covered with a shawl, 
which fell down from the upper regions in a most mys- 
terious manner, just when they wanted it. Demi 
climbed up to the box beside Peter, the black coach- 
man. Nat sat next Dan in the place of honor, while 
Uncle Teddy would sit opposite, to take care of the 
foot he said, but really that he might study the faces 
before him both so happy, yet so different, for Dan's 
was square, and brown, and strong, while Nat's was 
long, and fair, and rather weak, but very amiable with 
its mild eyes and good forehead. 

" By the way, I 've got a book somewhere here that 
you may like to see," said the oldest boy of the party, 
diving under the seat and producing a book which 
made Dan exclaim 

" Oh ! by George, isn't that a stunner ? " as he turned 
the leaves, and saw fine plates of butterflies, and birds, 
and every sort of interesting insect, colored like life. 
He was so charmed that he forgot his thanks, but Mr. 
Laurie did not mind, and was quite satisfied to see the 
boy's eager delight, and to hear his exclamations over 
certain old friends as he came to them. Nat leaned on. 
his shoulder to look, and Demi turned his back to the 
horses, and let his feet dangle inside the carriage, so 
that he might join in the conversation. 

When they got among the beetles, Mr. Laurie took 



180 LITTLE MEN. 

a curious little object out of his vest-pocket, and laying 
it in the palm of his hand, said 

" There's a beetle that is thousands of years old ; " 
and then, while the lads examined the queer stone-bug, 
that looked so old and gray, he told them how it came 
out of the wrappings of a mummy, after lying for ages 
in a famous tomb. Finding them interested, he went 
on to tell about the Egyptians, and the strange and 
splendid ruins they have left behind them the Nile, 
and how he sailed up the mighty river, with the hand- 
some dark men to work his boat : how he shot allio-a- 

* CD 

tors, saw wonderful beasts and birds ; and afterwards 
crossed the desert on a camel, who pitched him about 
like a ship in a storm. 

" Uncle Teddy tells stories 'most as well as Grandpa," 
said Demi, approvingly, when the tale was done, and 
the boys' eyes asked for more. 

" Thank you," said Mr. Laurie, quite soberly, for he 
considered Demi's praise worth having, for children are 
good critics in such cases, and to suit them is an accom- 
plishment that any one may be proud of. 

" Here 's another trifle or two that I tucked into my 
pocket as I was turning over my traps to see if I had 
any thing that would amuse Dan," and Uncle Teddy 
produced a fine arrow-head and a string of wampum. 

" Oh ! tell about the Indians," cried Demi, who was 
fond of playing wigwam. 

" Dan knows lots about them," added Nat. 

"More than I do, I dare say. Tell us something," 
and Mr. Laurie looked as interested as the other two. 

" Mr. Hyde told me ; he 's been among 'em, and can 
talk their talk, and likes 'em," began Dan, flattered by 



UNCLE TEDDY. 181 

their attention, but rather embarrassed by having a 
grown-up listener. 

" What is wampum for?" asked curious Demi, from 
his perch. 

The others asked questions likewise, and, before he 
knew it, Dan was reeling o all Mr. Hyde had told him, 
as they sailed down the river a few weeks before. Mr. 
Laurie listened well, but found the boy more interesting 
than the Indians, for Mrs. Jo had told him about Dan, 
and he rather took a fancy to the wild lad, who ran 
away as he himself had often longed to do, and who 
was slowly getting tamed by pain and patience. 

" I Ve been thinking that it would be a good plan for 
you fellows to have a museum of your own ; a place in 
w;hich to collect all the curious and interesting things 
that you find, and make, and have given you. Mrs. Jo 
is too kind to complain, but it is rather hard for her to 
have the house littered up with all sorts of rattletraps, 
half-a-pint of dor-bugs in one of her best vases, for in- 
stance, a couple of dead bats nailed up in the back- 
entry, wasps' nests tumbling down on people's heads, 
and stones lying round everywhere, enough to pave the 
avenue. There are not many women who would stand 
that sort of thing, are there, now ? " 

As Mr. Laurie spoke with a merry look in his eyes, 
the boys laughed and nudged one another, for it was 
evident that some one told tales out of school, else how 
could he know of the existence of these inconvenient 
treasures. 

" Where can we put them, then ? " said Demi, cross- 
L,g his legs and leaning down to argue the question. 

" In the old carriage-house." 



182 LITTLE MEN. 

" But it leaks, and there isn't any window, nor any 
place to put things, and it's all dust and cobwebs," 
began Nat. 

" Wait till Gibbs and I have touched it up a bit, and 
then see how you like it. He is to come over on Mon- 
day to get it ready ; then next Saturday I shall come 
out, and we will fix it up, and make the beginning, at 
least, of a fine little museum. Every one can bring his 
things and have a place for them ; and Dan is to be the 
head man, because he knows most about such matters, 
and it will be quiet, pleasant work for him now that he 
can't knock about much." 

" Won't that be jolly ? " cried Nat, while Dan smiled 
all over his face and had not a word to say, but hugged 
his book, and looked at Mr. Laurie as if he thought 
him one of the greatest public benefactors that ever 
blessed the world. 

" Shall I go round again, sir ? " asked Peter, as they 
came to the gate, after two slow turns about the half- 
mile triangle. 

" No, we must be prudent, else we can't come again. 
I must go over the premises, take a look at the carriage- 
house, and have a little talk with Mrs. Jo before I go ; " 
and, having deposited Dan on his sofa to rest and enjoy 
his book, Uncle Teddy went off to have a frolic with 
the lads who were raging about the place in search of 
him. Leaving the little girls to mess up-stairs, Mrs. 
Bhaer sat down by Dan, and listened to his eager 
account of the drive till the flock returned, dusty, 
warm, and much excited about the new museum, which 
every one considered the most brilliant idea of the age. 

" I always wanted to endow some sort of an institu- 



UNCLE TEDDY. 183 

Cion, and I am going to begin with this," said Mr. 
Laurie, sitting down on a stool at Mrs. Jo's feet. 

" You have endowed one already. What do you 
call this ? " and Mrs. Jo pointed to the happy-faced lads, 
Who had camped upon the floor about them. 

" I call it a very promising Bhaer-garden, and I 'm 
proud to be a member of it. Did you know I was 
the head boy in this school ? " he asked, turning to 
Dan, and changing the subject skilfully, for he hated 
to be thanked for the generous things he did. 

" I thought Franz was ! " answered Dan, wondering 
what the man meant. 

" Oh, dear no ! I 'm the first boy Mrs. Jo ever had to 
take care of, and I was such a bad one that she isn't 
done with me yet, though she has been working at me 
for years and years." 

" How old she must be ! " said Nat, innocently. 

" She began early, you see. Poor thing ! she was 
only fifteen when she took me, and I led her such a 
life, it 's a wonder she isn't wrinkled and gray, and quite 
worn out," and Mr Laurie looked up at her laughing. 

"Dont, Teddy; I won't have you abuse yourself 
so ; " and Mrs. Jo stroked the curly black head at her 
knee as affectionately as ever, for, in spite of every 
thing, Teddy was her boy still. 

u If it hadn't been for you, there never would have 
been a Plumfield. It was my success with you, sir, that 
gave me courage to try my pet plan. So the boys may 
thank you for it, and name the new institution ' The 
Laurence Museum,' in honor of its founder, won't we, 
boys ? " she added, looking very like the lively Jo of 
old times. 



184 LITTLE MEN. 

" We will ! we will ! " shouted the boys, throwing up 
their hats, for though they had taken them off on enter- 
ing the house, according to rule, they had been in too 
much of a hurry to hang them up. 

" I' m as hungry as a bear, can't I have a cookie ? " 
asked Mr. Laurie, when the shout subsided and he had 
expressed his thanks by a splendid bow. 

"Trot out and ask Asia for the gingerbread-box, 
Demi. It isn't in order to eat between meals, but, on 
this joyful occasion, we won't mind, and have a cookie 
all round," said Mrs. Jo ; and when the box came she 
dealt them out with a liberal hand, every one munching 
away in a social circle. 

Suddenly, in the midst of a bite, Mr. Laurie cried out, 
"Bless my heart, I forgot grandma's bundle!" and 
running out to the carriage, returned with an interest- 
ing white parcel, which, being opened, disclosed a 
choice collection of beasts, birds, and pretty things cut 
out of crisp sugary cake, and baked a lovely brown. 

" There 's one for each, and a letter to tell which is 
whose. Grandma and Hannah made them, and I 
tremble to think what would have happened to me if 
I had forgotten to leave them." 

Then, amid much laughing and fun, the cakes were 
distributed. A fish for Dan, a fiddle for Nat, a book for 
Demi, a monkey for Tommy, a flower for Daisy, a hoop 
for Nan, who had driven twice round the triangle with- 
out stopping, a star for Emil, who put on airs because 
he studied astronomy, and, best of all, an omnibus for 
Franz, whose great delight was to drive the family bus. 
Stuffy got a fat pig, and the little folks had birds, and 
cats, and rabbits, with black currant eyes. 



UNCLE TEDDY. 185 

" Now I must go. Where is my Goldilocks ? Mam- 
ma will come flying out to get her if I'm not back 
early," said Uncle Teddy, when the last crumb had 
vanished, which it speedily did, you may be sure. 

The young ladies had gone into the garden, and 
while they waited till Franz looked them up, Jo 
and Laurie stood at the door talking together. 

" How does little Giddy-gaddy come on ? " he asked, 
for Nan's pranks amused him very much, and he was 
never tired of teasing Jo about her. 

" Nicely ; she is- getting quite mannerly, and begins 
to see the error of her wild ways." 

" Don't the boys encourage her in them?" 

" Yes ; but I keep talking, and lately she has un- 
proved much. You saw how prettily she shook handa 
with you, and how gentle she was with Bess. Daisy's 
example has its effect upon her, and I'm quite sure 
that a few months will work wonders." 

Here Mrs. Jo's remarks were cut short by the appear- 
ance of Nan tearing round the corner at a break-neck 
pace, driving a mettlesome team of four boys, and fol- 
lowed by Daisy trundling Bess in a wheelbarrow. Hats 
off, hair flying, whip cracking, and barrow bumping, up 
they came in a cloud of dust, looking as wild a set of 
little hoydens as one would wish to see. 

" So these are the model children, are they? It's 
lucky I didn't bring Mrs. Curtis out to see your school 
for the cultivation of morals and manners ; she would 
never have recovered from the shock of this spectacle," 
said Mr. Laurie, laughing at Mrs. Jo's premature rejoic- 
ing over Nan's improvement. 

"Laugh away; I'll succeed yet. As you used to 



186 LITTLE MEN. 

say at College, quoting some professor, 'Though the 
experiment has failed, the principle remains the same,' " 
said Mrs. Bhaer, joining in the merriment. 

"I'm afraid Nan's example is taking effect upon 
Daisy, instead of the other way. Look at my little 
princess ! she has utterly forgotten her dignity, and is 
screaming like the rest. Young ladies, what does this 
mean ? " and Mr. Laurie rescued his small daughter 
from impending destruction, for the four horses were 
champing their bits and curvetting madly all about her, 
as she sat brandishing a great whip in both hands. 

" We 're having a race, and I beat," shouted Nan. 

" I could have run faster, only I was afraid of spilling 
Bess," screamed Daisy. 

" Hi ! go long ! " cried the princess, giving such a 
flourish with her whip that the horses ran away, and 
were seen no more. 

"My precious child! come away from this ill-man- 
nered crew before you are quite spoilt. Good-by, Jo ! 
Next time I come, I shall expect to find the boys mak- 
ing patchwork." 

" It, wouldn't hurt them a bit. I don't give in, mind 
you ; for my experiments always fail a few times before 
they succeed. Love to Amy and my blessed Marmee," 
called Mrs. Jo, as the carriage drove away; and the 
last Mr. Laurie saw of her, she was consoling Daisy for 
her failure by a ride in the wheelbarrow, and looking as 
if she liked it. 

Great was the excitement all the week about the 
repairs in the carriage-house, which went briskly on in 
spite of the incessant questions, advice, and meddling 
of the boys. Old Gibbs was nearly driven wild with it 



UNCLE TEDDY. 187 

all, but managed to do his work nevertheless ; and by 
Friday night the place was all in order roof mended, 
shelves up, walls whitewashed, a great window cut at 
the back, which let in a flood of sunshine, and gave 
them a fine view of the brook, the meadows, and the 
distant hills ; and over the great door, painted in red 
letters, was " The Laurence Museum." 

All Saturday morning the boys were planning how 
it should be furnished with their spoils, and when Mr. 
Laurie arrived, bringing an aquarium which Mrs. Amy 
said she was tired of, their rapture was great. 

The afternoon was spent in arranging things, and 
when the running and lugging and hammering was 
over, the ladies were invited to behold the institution. 

It certainly was a pleasant place, airy, clean, and 
bright. A hop-vine shook its green bells round the 
open window, the pretty aquarium stood in the middle 
of the room, with some delicate water plants rising 
above the water, and gold-fish showing their brightness 
as they floated to and fro below. On either side of the 
window were rows of shelves ready to receive the 
curiosities yet to be found. Dan's tall cabinet stood 
before the great door, which was fastened up, while the 
small door was to be used. On the cabinet stood a 
queer Indian idol, very ugly, but very interesting ; old 
Mr. Laurence sent it, as well as a fine Chinese junk in 
full sail, which had a conspicuous place on the long 
table in the middle of the room. Above, swinging in a 
loop, and looking as if she was alive, hung Polly, who 
died at an advanced age, had been carefully stuffed, and 
was now presented by Mrs. Jo. The walls were decorated 
with all sorts of things. A snake's skin, a big wasp's nest, 



188 LITTLE MEN. 

a birch-bark canoe, a string of birds' eggs, wreaths of 
gray moss from the South, and a bunch of cotton-pods. 
The dead bats had a place, also a large turtle-shell, and 
an ostrich-egg proudly presented by Demi, who volun- 
teered to explain these rare curiosities to guests when- 
ever they liked. There were so many stones that it 
was impossible to accept them all, so only a few of the 
best were arranged among the shells 011 the shelves, the 
rest were piled up in corners, to be examined by Dan 
at his leisure. 

Every one was eager to give something, even Silas, 
who sent home for a stuffed wild-cat killed in his youth. 
It was rather moth-eaten and shabby, but on a high 
bracket and best side foremost the effect was fine, for 
the yellow glass eyes glared, and the mouth snarled so 
naturally, that Teddy shook in his little shoes at sight 
of it, when he came bringing his most cherished treas- 
ure, one cocoon, to lay upon the shrine of science. 

" Isn't it beautiful ? I 'd no idea we had so many 
curious things. I gave that; don't it look well ? We 
might make a lot by charging something for letting folks 
see it." 

Jack added that last suggestion to the general chatter 
that went on as the family viewed the room. 

" This is a free museum, and if there is any speculat- 
ing on it I '11 paint out the name over the door," said 
Mr. Laurie, turning so quickly that Jack wished he 
had held his tongue. 

"Hear! hear!" cried Mr. Bhaer. 

* Speech ! speech ! " added Mrs. Jo. 

" Can't, I 'm too bashful. You give them a lecture 
yourself you are used to it," Mr. Laurie answered, 



UNULE TEDDY. 



retreating towards the window, meaning to escape. 
But she held him fast, and said, laughing as she looked 
at the dozen pairs of dirty hands about her, 

" If I did lecture, it would be on the chemical and 
cleansing properties of soap. Come now, as the founder 
of the institution, you really ought to give us a few 
moral remarks, and we will applaud tremendously." 

Seeing that there was no way of escaping, Mr. Laurie 
looked up at Polly hanging overhead, seemed to find 
inspiration in the brilliant old bird, and sitting down 
upon the table, said, in his pleasant way, 

" There is one thing I 'd like to suggest, boys, and 
that is, I want you to get some good as well as much 
pleasure out of this. Just putting curious or pretty 
things here won't do it ; so suppose you read up about 
them, so that when anybody asks questions you can 
answer them, and understand the matter. I used to 
like these things myself, and should enjoy hearing 
about them now, for I 've forgotten all I once knew. 
It wasn't much, was it, Jo ? Here 's Dan now, full of 
stories about birds, and bugs, and so on ; let him take 
care of the museum, and once a week the rest of you 
take turns to read a composition, or tell about some 
animal, mineral, or vegetable. We should all like that, 
and I think it would put considerable useful knowledge 
into our heads. What do you say, Professor ? ' : 

" I 'd like it much, and will give the lads all the help 
I can. But they will need books to read up these new 
subjects, and we have not many, I fear," began Mr. 
Bhaer, looking much pleased, and planning many fine 
lectures on geology, which he liked. " We should have 
a library for the special purpose." 



190 LITTLE MEN. 

" Is that a useful sort of book, Dan ? " asked Mi. Lau- 
rie, pointing to the volume that lay open by the cabinet. 

" Oh, yes ! it tells all I want to know about insects. 
I had it here to see how to fix the butterflies rio;ht. I 

O 

covered it, so it is not hurt ; " and Dan caught it up, 
fearing the lender might think him careless. 

" Give it here a minute ; " and, pulling out his pencil, 
Mr. Laurie wrote Dan's name in it, saying, as he set the 
book up on one of the corner shelves, where nothing 
stood but a stuffed bird without a tail, " There, that is 
the beginning of the museum library. I '11 hunt up 
some more books, and Demi shall keep them in order. 
Where are those jolly little books we used to read, Jo ? 
* Insect Architecture ' or some such name all about 
ants having battles, and bees having queens, and crickets 
eating holes in our clothes and stealing milk, and larks 
of that sort." 

" In the garret at home. I '11 have them sent out, 
and we will plunge into Natural History with a will," 
said Mrs. Jo, ready for any thing. 

" Won't it be hard to write about such things ? " 
asked Nat, who hated compositions. 

" At first, perhaps ; but you will soon like it. If you 
think that hard, how would you like to have this sub- 
ject given to you, as it .was to a girl of thirteen : A 
conversation between Themistocles, Aristides, and Per- 
icles on the proposed appropriation of the funds of the 
confederacy of Delos for the ornamentation of Athens ? " 
said Mrs. Jo. 

The boys groaned at the mere sound of the long 
names, and the gentlemen laughed at the absurdity of 
the lesson. 



UNCLE TEDDY. 191 

" Did she write it ? "' asked Demi, in an awe-stricken 
tone. 

" Yes, but you can imagine what a piece of work she 
made of it, though she was rather a bright child." 

" I 'd like to have seen it," said Mr. Bhaer. 

" Perhaps I can find it for you ; I went to school with 
her," and Mrs. Jo looked so wicked that every one knew 
who the little girl was. 

Hearing of this fearful subject for a composition quite 
reconciled the boys to the thought of writing about 
familiar things. Wednesday afternoon was appointed 
for the lectures, as they preferred to call them, for some 
chose to talk instead of write. Mr. Bhaer promised a 
portfolio in which the written productions should be 
kept, and Mrs. Bhaer said she would attend the course 
with great pleasure. 

Then the dirty-handed society went off to wash, fol- 
lowed by the Professor, trying to calm the anxiety of 
Rob, who had been told by Tommy that all water was 
full of invisible polywogs. 

" I like your plan very much, only don't be too gen- 
erous, Teddy," said Mrs. Bhaer, when they were left 
alone. "You know most of the boys have got to 
paddle their own canoes when they leave us, and too 
much sitting in the lap of luxury will unfit them for it." 

" I '11 be moderate, but do let me amuse myself. I 
get desperately tired of business sometimes, and nothing 
freshens me up like a good frolic with your boys. I 
like that Dan very much, Jo. He isn't demonstrative ; 
but he has the eye of a hawk, and when you have 
tamed him a little he will do you credit." 

w I 'm so glad you think so. Thank you very much 



192 LITTLE MEN. 

for your kindness to him, especially for this museum 
affair ; it will keep him happy while he is lame, give me 
a chance to soften and smooth this poor, rough lad, and 
make him love us. What did inspire you with such a 
beautiful, helpful idea, Teddy?" asked Mrs. Bhaer, 
glancing back at the pleasant room, as she turned to 
leave it. 

Laurie took both her hands in his, and answered, 
with a look that made her eyes fill with happy tears 

" Dear Jo ! I have known what it is to be a mother- 
less boy, and I never can forget how much you and 
yours have done for me all these years." 



CHAPTER XIL 
H UCKLEBERR1ES. 

THERE was a great clashing of tin pails, much 
running to and fro, and frequent demands for 
omething to eat, one August afternoon, for the boys 
were going huckleberrying, and made as much stir 
about it as if they were setting out to find the North- 
West Passage. 

" Now, my lads, get off as quietly as you can, for 
Rob is safely out of the way, and won't see you," said 
Mrs. Bhaer, as she tied Daisy's broad-brimmed hat, and 
settled the great blue pinafore in which she had envel- 
oped Nan. 

But the plan did not succeed, for Rob had heard the 
bustle, decided to go, and prepared himself, without a 
thought of disappointment. The troop was just get- 
ting under way when the little man came marching 
down stairs with his best hat on, a bright tin pail in 
his hand, and a face beaming with satisfaction. 

" Oh, dear ! now we shall have a scene," sighed Mrs. 
Bhaer, who found her eldest son very hard to manage 
at times. 

" I 'm all ready," said Rob, and took his place in the 
ranks with such perfect unconsciousness of his mistake, 
that it really was very hard to undeceive him. 

13 



194 LITTLE MEN. 

" It 's too far for you, my love ; stay and take care 
of me, for I shall be all alone," began his mother. 

" You Ve got Teddy. I 'm a big boy, so I can go ; 
you said I might when I was bigger, and I am now," 
persisted Rob, with a cloud beginning to dim the 
brightness of his happy face. 

"We are going up to the great pasture, and it's 
ever so far; we don't want you tagging on," cried 
Jack, who did not admire the little boys. 

" I won't tag, I '11 run and keep up. O mamma ! let 
me go ! I want to fill my new pail, and I '11 bring ? em 
all to you. Please, please, I will be good ! " prayed 
Hobby, looking up at his mother, so grieved and disap- 
pointed that her heart began to fail her. 

" But, my deary, you '11 get so tired and hot you 
won't have a good time. Wait till I go, and then we 
will stay all day, and pick as many berries as you 
want." 

" You never do go, you are so busy, and I 'm tired of 
waiting. I'd rather go and get the berries for you 
all myself. I love to pick 'em, and I want to fill my 
new pail dreffly," sobbed Rob. 

The pathetic sight of great tears tinkling into the 
dear new pail, and threatening to fill it with salt water 
instead of huckleberries, touched all the ladies present. 
His mother patted the weeper on his back; Daisy 
offered to stny at home with him ; and Nan said, in her 
decided wnv, 

* ' 

"Let him come ; I'll take care of him." 
"If Franz was going I wouldn't mind, for he is 
very careful ; but he is haying with the father, and I 'm 
not sure about the rest of you," began Mrs. Bhaer. 



HUCKLEBERRIES. 195 

" It 's so far," put in Jack. 

" I 'd carry him if I was going wish I was," said 
Dan, with a sigh. 

" Thank you, dear, but you must take care of your 
foot. I wish I could go. Stop a minute, I think I can 
manage it after all ; " and Mrs. Bhaer ran out to the 
steps, waving her apron wildly. 

Silas was just driving away in the hay-cart, but 
turned back, and agreed at once, when Mrs. Jo pro- 
posed that he should take the whole party to the 
pasture, and go for them at five o'clock. 

" It will delay your work a little, but never mind ; 
we will pay you in huckleberry pies," said Mrs. Jo, 
knowing Silas's weak point. 

His rough, brown face brightened up, and he said, 
with a cheery " Haw ! haw ! " " Wai now, Mis 
Bhaer, if you go to bribin' of me, I shall give in right 
away." 

"Now, boys, I have arranged it so that you can all 
go," said Mrs. Bhaer, running back again, much re- 
lieved, for she loved to make them happy, and always 
felt miserable when she had disturbed the serenity of 
her little sons ; for she believed that the small hopes 
and plans and pleasures of children should be tenderly 
respected by grown-up people, and never rudely 
thwarted or ridiculed. 

" Can I go ? " said Dan, delighted. 

" I thought especially of you. Be careful, and never 
mind the berries, but sit about and enjoy the lovely 
things which you know how to find all about you," 
answered Mrs. Bhaer, who remembered his kind offer 
to her boy. 



196 LITTLE MEN. 

" Me too ! me too ! " sung Rob, dancing with joy, and 
clapping his precious pail and cover like castanets. 

" Yes, and Daisy and Nan must take good care of 
you. Be at the bars at five o'clock, and Silas will 
come for you all." 

Robby cast himself upon his mother in a burst of 
gratitude, promising to bring her every berry he picked, 
and not eat one. Then the}^ were all packed into the 
hay-cart, and went rattling awaj*, the brightest face 
among the dozen being that of Rob, as he sat between 
his two temporary little mothers, beaming upon the 
whole world, and waving his best hat ; for his indulgent 
mamma had not the heart to bereave him of it, since 
this was a gala-day to him. 

Such a happ3" afternoon as they had, in spite of the 
mishaps which usual!}' occur on such expeditious! Of 
course Tommy came to grief, tumbled upon a hornets' 
nest and got stung ; but being used to woe, he bore the 
smart manfully, till Dan suggested the application of 
damp earthfwhich much assuaged the pain. Daisy saw 
a snake, and in flying from it lost half her berries ; but 
Demi helped her to fill up again, and discussed reptiles 
most learnedly the while. Ned fell out of a tree, and 
split his jacket down the back, but suffered no other 
fracture. Emil and Jack established rival claims to a 
certain thick patch, and while they were squabbling 
about it, Stuffy quickly and quietly stripped the bushes 
and fled to the protection of Dan, who was enjoying 
himself immensely. The crutch was no longer neces- 
sary, and he was delighted to see how strong his foot 
felt as he roamed about the great pasture, full of inter- 
esting rocks and stumps, with familiar little creatures 



HUCKLEBERRIES. 197 

in the grass, and well-known insects dancing in the 
air. 

But of all the adventures that happened on this after- 
noon that which befell Nan and Rob was the most excit- 
ing, and it long remained one of the favorite histories 
of the household. Having explored the country pretty 
generally, torn three rents in her frock, and scratched 
her face in a barberry-bush, Nan began to pick the ber- 
ries that shone like big, black beads on the low, green 
bushes. Her nimble fingers flew, but still her basket 
did not fill up as rapidly as she desired, so she kept 
wandering here and there to search for better places, 
instead of picking contentedly and steadily as Daisy 
did. Rob followed Nan, for her energy suited him 
better than his cousin's patience, and he too was anx- 
ious to have the biggest and best berries for Mannar. 

" I keep putting 'em in, but it don't fill up, and I 'm 
so tired," said Rob, pausing a moment to rest his short 
legs, and beginning to think huckleberrying was not all 
his fancy painted it ; for the sun blazed, Nan skipped 
hither and thither like a grasshopper, and the berries 
fell out of his pail almost as fast as he put them in, 
because, in his struggles with the bushes, it was often 
upside-down. 

" Last time we came they were ever so much thicker 
over that wall great bouncers; and there is a cave 
there, where the boys made a fire. Let 's go and fill our 
things quick, and then hide in the cave and let the others 
find us," proposed Nan, thirsting for adventures. 

Rob consented, and away they went, scrambling 
over the wall and running down the sloping fields on 
the other side, till they were hidden among the rocks 



198 LITTLE MEN. 

and underbrush. The berries were thick, and at last the 
pails were actually full. It was shady and cool down 
there, and a little spring gave the thirsty children a 
refreshing drink out of its mossy cup. 

" Now we will go and rest in the cave, and eat our 
lunch," said Nan, well satisfied with her success so far. 

" Do you know the way ? " asked Rob. 

" 'Course I do ; I 've been once, and I always remem- 

V 

ber. Didn't I go and get my box all right ? " 

That convinced Rob, and he followed blindly as Nan 
led him over stock and stone, and brought him, after 
much meandering, to a small recess in the rock, where 
the blackened stones showed that fires had been made. 

"Now, isn't it nice?" asked Nan, as she took out a 
bit of bread-and-butter, rather damaged by being mixed 
up with nails, fishhooks, stones, and other foreign sub- 
stances, in the young lady's pocket. 

" Yes ; do you think they will find us soon ? " asked 
Rob, who found the shadowy glen rather dull, and 
began to long for more society. 

" No, I don't ; because if I hear them, I shal) hide, 
and have fun making- them find me." 

CJ 

" P'raps they won't come." 

" Don't care ; I can get home myself." 

" Is it a great way ? r asked Rob, looking at his 
little, stubby boots, scratched and wet with his long 
wandering. 

"It's six miles, I guess." Nan's ideas of distance 
were vague, and her faith in her own powers great. 

"I think we better go now," suggested Rob, presently. 

" I shan't go till I have picked over my berries ; 1J and 
Nan began what seemed to Rob an endless task. 



HUCKLEBERRIES. 199 

" Oh, dear ! you said you 'd take good care of me," 
he sighed, as the sun seemed to drop behind the hill all 
of a sudden. 

" Well, I am taking care of you as hard as I can. 
Don't be cross, child ; I '11 go in a minute," said Nan, 
who considered five-year-old Robby a mere infant com- 
pared to herself. 

So little Rob sat looking anxiously about him, and 
waiting patiently, for, spite of some misgivings, he felt 
great confidence in Nan. 

"I guess it's going to be night pretty soon," he 
observed, as if to himself, as a mosquito bit him, and 
the frogs in a neighboring marsh began to pipe up for 
the evening concert. 

" My goodness me ! so it is. Come right away this 
minute, or they will be gone," cried Nan, looking up 
from her work, and suddenly perceiving that the sun 
was down. 

" I heard a horn about an hour ago ; may be they were 
blowing for us," said Rob, trudging after his guide as 
she scrambled up the steep hill. 

" Where was it ? " asked Nan, stopping short. 

" Over that way ; " he pointed with a dirty little finger 
in an entirely wrong direction. 

"Let's go that way and meet them;" and Nan 
wheeled about, and began to trot through the bushes, 
feeling a trifle anxious, for there were so many cow- 
paths all about she could not remember which way they 
came. 

On they went over stock and stone again, pausing 
now and then to listen for the horn, which did not blow 
any more, for it was only the moo of a cow on her 
way home. 



200 LITTLE MEN. 

"I don't remember seeing that pile of stones do 
vou?" asked Nan, as she sat on a wall to rest a moment 

/ 

and take an observation. 

" I don't remember any thing, but I want to go home," 
and Rob's voice had a little tremble in it that made Nan 
put her arms round him and lift him gently down, say- 
ing, in her most capable way, 

"I'm going just as fast as I can, dear. Don't cry, 
and when we come to the road, I '11 carry you." 

" Where is the road ? " and Robby wiped his eyes to 
look for it. 

" Over by that big tree. Don't you know that 's the 
one Ned tumbled out of?" 

" So it is. May be they waited for us ; I 'd like to ride 
home wouldn't you ?" and Robby brightened up as he 
plodded along toward the end of the great pasture. 

" No, I 'd rather walk," answered Nan, feeling quite 
sure that she would be obliged to do so, and preparing 
her mind for it. 

Another long trudge through the fast-deepening twi- 
light and another disappointment, for when they reached 
the tree, they found to their dismay that it was not the 
one Ned climbed, and no road anywhere appeared. 

"Are we lost?" quavered Rob, clasping his pail in 
despair. 

"Not much. I don't just see which way to go, and 
I guess we 'd better call." 

So they both shouted till they were hoarse, yet 
nothing answered but the frogs in full chorus. 

" There is another tall tree over there, perhaps that 's 
the one," said Nan, whose heart sunk within her, though 
she still spoke bravely. 




"Are we lost ? quavered Rob, clasping his pail in despair." PAGE 200. 



HUCKLEBERRIES. 201 

" I don't think I can go any more ; my boots are so 
heavy I can't pull 'em ; " and Robby sat down on a 
stone quite worn out. 

" Then we must stay here all night. I don't care 
much, if snakes don't come." 

" I 'm frightened of snakes. I can't stay all night. 
Oh, dear ! I don't like to be lost," and Rob puckered 
up his face to cry, when suddenly a thought oc- 
curred to him, and he said, in a tone of perfect confi- 
dence, 

" Marmar will come and find me she always does ; 
I ain't afraid now." 

" She won't know where we are." 

" She didn't know I was shut up in the ice-house, but 
she found me. I know she '11 come," returned Robby, 
so trustfully, that Nan felt relieved, and sat dowo by 
him, saying, with a remorseful sigh, 

" I wish we hadn't run away." 

"You made me; but I don't mind much Marmar 
will love me just the same," answered Rob, clinging to 
his sheet-anchor when all other hope was gone. 

" I 'm so hungry. Let 's eat our berries," proposed 
Nan after a pause, during which Rob began to nod. 

" So am I, but I can't eat mine, 'cause I told Marmar 
I 'd keep them all for her." 

"You'll have to eat them if no one comes for us," 
said Nan, who felt like contradicting every thing just 
then. " If we stay here a great many days, we shall 
eat up all the berries in the field, and then we shall 
starve," she added, grimly. 

" I shall eat sassafras. I know a big tree of it, and 
Dan told me how squirrels dig up the roots and eat 



202 LITTLE MEN. 

them, and I love to dig," returned Rob, undaunted 
by the prospect of starvation. 

" Yes ; and we can catch frogs, and cook them. My 
father ate some once, and he said they were nice," put- 
in Nan, beginning to find a spice of romance even in 
being lost in a huckleberry pasture. 

" How could we cook frogs? we haven't got any fire." 

" I don't know ; next time I '11 have matches in my 
pocket," said Nan, rather depressed by this obstacle to 
the experiment in frog-cookery. 

" Couldn't we light a fire with a firefly ? " asked Rob, 
hopefully, -as he watched them flitting to and fro like 
winged sparks. 

"Let's try;" and several minutes were pleasantly 
spent in catching the flies, and trying to make them 
kindle a green twig or two. " It 's a lie to call them 
^re-flies when there isn't a fire in them," Nan said, throw- 
ing one unhappy insect away with scorn, though it 
shone its best, and obligingly walked up and down the 
twigs to please the innocent little experimenters. 

"Marmar's a good while coming," said Rob, after 
another pause, during which they watched the stars 
overhead, smelt the sweet fern crushed under foot, and 
listened to the crickets' serenade. 

"I don't see why God made any night; day is so 
much pleasanter," said Nan, thoughtfully. 

" It 's to sleep in," answered Rob, with a yawn. 

" Then do go to sleep," said Nan, pettishly. 

" I want my own bed. Oh, I wish I could see Teddy ! " 
cried Rob, painfully reminded of home by the soft chirp 
of birds safe in their little nests. 

" I don't believe your mother will ever find us," said 



HUCKLEBERRIES. 203 

Nan, who was becoming desperate, for she hated pa- 
tient waiting of any sort. " It 's so dark she won't see 



us." 



" It was all black in the ice-house, and I was so scared 
I didn't call her, but she saw me ; and she will see me 
now, no matter how dark it is," returned confiding Rob, 
standing up to peer into the gloom for the help which 
never failed him. 

" I see her ! I see her ! " he cried, and ran as fast as 
his tired legs would take him toward a dark figure 
slowly approaching. Suddenly he stopped, then turned 
about, and came stumbling back, screaming, in a great 
panic,- 

" No, it 's a bear, a big black one ! " and hid his face 
in Nan's skirts. 

For a moment Nan quailed ; even her courage gave 
out at thought of a real bear, and she was about to turn 
and flee in great disorder, when a mild " Moo ! " changed 
her fear to merriment, as she said, laughing, 

" It 's a cow, Robby ! the nice, black cow we saw this 
afternoon." 

The cow seemed to feel that it was not just the thing 
to meet two little people in her pasture after dark, and 
the amiable beast paused to inquire into the case. She 
let them stroke her, and stood regarding them with her 
soft eyes so mildly, that Nan, who feared no animal but 
a bear, was fired with a desire to milk her. 

" Silas taught me how ; and berries and milk would 
be so nice," she said, emptying the contents of her pail 
into her hat, and boldly beginning her new task, while 
Rob stood by and repeated, at her command, the poem 
from Mother Goose : 



204 LITTLE MEN. 

" Cushy cow, bonny, let down your milk, 

Let down your milk to me, 
And I will give you a gown of silk, 
A gown of silk and a silver tee." 

But the immortal rhyme had little effect, for the 
benevolent cow had already been milked, and had only 
half a gill to give the thirsty children. 

" Shoo ! get away ! you are an old cross patch," cried 
Nan, ungratefully, as she gave up the attempt in despair ; 
and poor Mooly walked on with a gentle gurgle of sur- 
prise and reproof. 

" Each can have a sip, and then we must take a walk. 
We shall go to sleep if we don't; and lost people 
mustn't sleep. Don't you know how Hannah Lee in 
the pretty story slept under the snow and died? " 

" But there isn't any snow now, and it 's nice and 
warm," said Rob, who was not blessed with as lively a 
fancy as Nan. 

"No matter, we will poke about a little, and call 
some more ; and then, if nobody comes, we will hide 
under the bushes, like Hop-o'-my-thumb and his 
brothers." 

It was a very short walk, however, for Rob was so 
sleepy he could not get on, and tumbled down so often 
that Nan entirely lost patience, being half distracted by 
the responsibility she had taken upon herself. 

" If you tumble down again, I '11 shake you," she said, 
lifting the poor little man up very kindly as she spoke, 
for Nan's bark was much worse than her bite. 

*' Please don't. It 's my boots - - they keep slipping 
so;" and Rob manfully checked the sob just ready to 
break out, adding, with a plaintive patience that touched 



HUCKLEBERRIES. 205 

Nan's heart, " If the skeeters didn't bite me so, I could 
go to sleep till Marmar comes." 

" Put your head on my lap, and I '11 cover you up 
with my apron ; I 'm not afraid of the night," said Nan, 
sitting down and trying to persuade herself that she 
did not mind the shadow nor the mysterious rustlings 
ull about her. 

" Wake me up when she comes," said Rob, and was 
fast asleep in five minutes with his head in Nan's lap 
under the pinafore. 

The little girl sat for some fifteen minutes, staring 
about her with anxious eyes, and feeling as if each 
second was an hour. Then a pale light began to glim- 
mer over the hill-top, and she said to herself 

" I guess the night is over and morning is coming. 
I 'd like to see the sun rise, so I '11 watch, and when it 
comes up we can find our way right home." 

But before the moon's round face peeped above the 
hill to destroy her hope, Nan had fallen asleep, leaning 
back in a little bower of tall ferns, and was deep in a 
midsummer night's dream of fireflies and blue aprons, 
mountains of huckleberries, and Robby wiping away 
the tears of a black cow, who sobbed, " I want to go 
home ! I want to go home ! '' 

While the children were sleeping, peacefully lulled by 
the drowsy hum of many neighborly mosquitoes, the 
family at home were in a great state of agitation. The 
hay-cart came at five, and all but Jack, Emil, Nan, and 
Rob were at the bars ready for it. Franz drove instead 
of Silas, and when the boys told him that the others 
were going home through the wood, he said, looking 
ill-pleased, " They ought to have left Rob to ride, he 
will be tired out by the long walk." 



206 LITTLE MEN. 

" It 's shorter that way, and they will carry him," 
said Stuffy, who was in a hurry for his supper. 

" You are sure Nan and Rob went with them ? ' 5 

" Of course they did ; I saw them getting over the 
wall, and sung out that it was most five, and Jack 
called back that they were going the other way," 
explained Tommy. 

" Very well, pile in then," and away rattled the hay- 
cart with the tired children and the full pails. 

Mrs. Jo looked sober when she heard of the division 
of the party, and sent Franz back with Toby to find 
and bring the little ones home. Supper was over, and 
the family sitting about in the cool hall as usual, when 
Franz came trotting back, hot, dusty, and anxious. 

" Have they come ? " he called out when half-way up 
the avenue. 

" No ! ' ' and Mrs. Jo flew out of her chair looking so 
alarmed that every one jumped up and gathered round 
Franz. 

" I can't find them anywhere," he began ; but the 
words were hardly spoken when a loud " Hullo ! '' 
startled them all, and the next minute Jack and Emil 
came round the house. 

" Where arc Nan and Rob ? " cried Mrs. Jo, clutching 

' v_-> 

Emil in a way that caused him to think his aunt had 

suddenly lost her wits. 

" I don't know. They came home with the others, 

didn't they ? " he answered, quickly. 

" No ; George and Tommy said they went with you." 
" Well, they didn't. Haven't seen them. We took 

a swim in the pond, and came by the wood," said Jackf 

looking alarmed, as well he might. 



HUCKLEBEBRIES. 207 

" Call Mr. Bhaer, get the lanterns, and tell Silas I 
want him." 

That was all Mrs. Jo said, but they knew what she 
meant, and flew to obey orders. In ten minutes, Mr. 
Bhaer and Silas were off to the wood, and Franz tearing 

' O 

down the road on Old Andy to search the great pas- 
ture. Mrs. Jo caught up some food from the table, a 
little bottle of brandy from the medicine-closet, took a 
lantern, and bidding Jack and Emil come with her, and 
the rest not stir, she trotted away on Toby, never stop- 
ping for hat or shawl. She heard some one running 
after her, but said not a word till, as she paused to call 
and listen, the light of her lantern shone on Dan's face. 

" You here ! I told Jack to come," she said, half- 
inclined to send him back, much as she needed help. 

" I wouldn't let him ; he and Emil hadn't had any 
supper, and I wanted to come more than they did." 
He said, taking the lantern from her and smiling up 
in her face with the steady look in his eyes that made 
her feel as if, boy though he was, she had some one to 
depend on. 

Off she jumped, and ordered him on to Toby, in spite 
of his pleading to walk ; then they went on again along 
the dusty, solitary road, stopping every now and then 
to call and hearken breathlessly for little voices to reply. 

When they came to the great pasture, other lights 
were already flitting to and fro like will-o'-the-wisps, 
and Mr. Bhaer's voice was heard shouting, " Nan ! Rob ! 
Rob ! Nan ! r in every part of the field. Silas whis- 
tled and roared, Dan plunged here and there on Toby, 
who seemed to understand the case, and went over the 
roughest places with unusual docility. Often Mrs. Jo 



208 LITTLE MEN. 

hushed them all, saying, with a sob in her throat, " The 
noise may frighten them, let me call ; Robby will know 
my voice ; " and then she would cry out the beloved 
little name in every tone of tenderness, till the very 
echoes whispered it softly, and the winds seemed to 
waft it willingly ; but still no answer came. 

The sky was overcast now, and only brief glimpses 
of the moon were seen, heat-lightning darted out of 
the dark clouds now and then, and a faint far-off 
rumble as of thunder told that a summer-storm was 
brewing. 

" O my Robby ! my Robby ! " mourned poor Mrs. 
Jo, wandering up and down like a pale ghost, while Dan 
kept beside her like a faithful firefly. " What shall I 
say to Nan's father if she comes to harm ? Why did I 
ever trust my darling so far away ? Fritz, do you hear 
any thing ? " And when a mournful " No " came back, 
she wrung her hands so despairingly, that Dan sprung 
down from Toby's back, tied the bridle to the bars, and 
said, in his decided way, 

" They may have gone down to the spring I 'm 
going to look." 

He was over the wall and away so fast that she 
could hardly follow him ; but when she reached the 
spot, he lowered the lantern and showed her with joy 
the marks of little feet in the soft ground about the 

O 

spring. She fell down on her knees to examine the 
tracks, and then sprung up, saying eagerly 

"Yes; that is the mark of my Robby's little 
boots ! Come this way, they must have gone on." 

Such a weary search ! But now some inexplicable 
distinct seemed to lead the anxious mother, for pres- 



HUCKLEBEEBIES. 209 

endy Dan uttered a cry, and caught up a little shining 
object lying in the path. It was the cover of the 
new tin pail, dropped in the first alarm of being lost. 
Mrs. Jo hugged and kissed it as if it were a living 
thing ; and when Dan was about to utter a glad shout 
to bring the others to the spot, she stopped him, say- 
ing, as she hurried on, "No, let me find them; I let 
Rob go, and I want to give him back to his father 
all myself. " 

A little farther on Nan's hat appeared, and after 
passing the place more than once, they came at last 
upon the babes in the wood, both sound asleep. Dan 
never forgot the little picture on which the light of 
his lantern shone that night. He thought Mrs. Jo 
would cry out, but she only whispered " Hush ! " as 
she softly lifted away the apron, and saw the little 
ruddy face below. The berry-stained lips were half- 
open as the breath came and went, the yellow hair 
lay damp on the hot forehead, and both the chubby 
hands held fast the little pail still full. 

The sight of the childish harvest, treasured through 
all the troubles of that night for her, seemed to 
touch Mrs. Jo to the heart, for suddenly she gathered 
up her boy, and began to cry over him, so tender- 
ly, yet so heartily, that he woke up, and at first 
seemed bewildered. Then he remembered, and hugged 
her close, saying with a laugh of triumph 

" I knew you 'd come ! O Mannar ! I did want you 
so ! " For a moment they kissed and clung to one an- 
other, quite forgetting all the world ; for no matter how 
lost and soiled and worn-out wandering sons may be, 
mothers can forgive and forget every thing as they 



210 LITTLE MEN. 

fold them in their fostering arms. Happy the son 
whose faith in his mother remains unchanged, and 
who, through all his wanderings, has kept some filial 
token to repay her brave and tender love. 

Dan meantime picked Nan out of her bush, and, 
with a gentleness none but Teddy ever saw in him 
before, he soothed her first alarm at the sudden waking, 
and wiped away her tears ; for Nan also began to cry 
for joy, it was so good to see a kind face and feel a 
strong arm round her after what seemed to her ages 
of loneliness and fear. 

"My poor little girl, don't cry! You are all safe 
now, and no one shall say a word of blame to-night," 
said Mrs. Jo, taking Nan into her capacious embrace, 
and cuddling both children as a hen might gather her 
lost chickens under her motherly wings. 

" It was my fault ; but I am sorry. I tried to take 
care of him, and I covered him up and let him sleep, 
and didn't touch his berries, though I was so hungry ; 
and I never will do it again truly never, never," 
sobbed Nan, quite lost in a sea of penitence and thank- 
fulness. 

" Call them now, and let us get home," said Mrs. Jo ; 
and Dan, getting upon the wall, sent the joyful word 
" Found ! " ringing over the field. 

How the wandering lights came dancing from all 
sides, and gathered round the little group among the 
sweet fern bushes ! Such a hugging, and kissing, and 
talking, and crying, as went on, must have amazed 
the glowworms, and evidently delighted the mos- 
quitoes, for they hummed frantically, while the lit- 
tle moths came in flocks to the party, and the frog* 



HUCKLEBERRIES. 211 

croaked as if they could not express their satisfaction 
loudly enough. 

Then they set out for home, a queer party, for 
Franz rode on to tell the news ; Dan and Toby led the 
way ; then came Nan in the strong arms of Silas, who 
considered her " the smartest little baggage he ever saw," 
and teased her all the way home about her pranks. Mr. 
Bhaer would let no one carry Rob but himself, and the 
little fellow, refreshed by sleep, sat up, and chattered 
gayly, feeling himself a hero, while his mother went 
beside him holding on to any part of his precious little 
body that came handy, and never tired of hearing him 
say, " I knew Marmar would come," or seeing him lean 
down to kiss her, and put a plump berry into her mouth, 
" ' Cause he picked 'em all for her." 

The moon shone out just as they reached the avenue, 
and all the boys came shouting to meet them, so the 
lost lambs were borne in triumph and safety, and landed 
in the dining-room, where the unromantic little things 
demanded supper instead of preferring kisses and ca- 
resses. They were set down to bread and milk, while the 
entire household stood round to gaze upon them. Nan 
soon recovered her spirits, and recounted her perils with 
a relish now that they were all over. Rob seemed 
absorbed in his food, but put down his spoon all of a 
sudden, and set up a doleful roar. 

" My precious, why do you cry ? " asked his mother, 
who still hung over him. 

" I 'm crying 'cause I was lost," bawled Rob, trying 
to squeeze out a tear, and failing entirely. 

" But you are found now. Nan says you didn't cry out 
in the field, and I was glad you were such a brave boy." 



212 LITTLE MEN. 

" I was so busy being frightened I didn't have any 
time then. But I want to cry now, 'cause I don't like 
to be lost," explained Rob, struggling with sleep, emo- 
tion, and a mouthful of bread and milk. 

The boys set up such a laugh at this funny way of 
making up for lost time, that Rob stopped to look at 
them, and the merriment was so infectious, that, after a 
surprised stare, he burst out into a merry " Ha, ha ! r 
and beat his spoon upon the table as if he enjoyed the 
joke immensely. 

" It is ten o'clock ; into bed, every man of you," said 
Mr. Bhaer, looking at his watch. 

" And, thank Heaven ! there will be no empty ones 
to-night," added Mrs. Bhaer, watching, with full eyes, 
Robby going up in his father's arms, and Nan, escorted 
by Daisy and Demi, who considered her the most inter- 
esting heroine of their collection. 

" Poor Aunt Jo is so tired she ought to be carried up 
herself," said gentle Franz, putting his arm round her 
as she paused at the stair-foot, looking quite exhausted 
by her fright and long walk. 

" Let 's make an arm-chair," proposed Tommy. 

" No, thank you, my lads ; but somebody may lend 
me a shoulder to lean on," answered Mrs. Jo. 

" Me ! me ! ri and half-a-dozen jostled one another, all 
eager to be chosen, for there was something in the pale 
motherly face that touched the warm hearts under the 
round jackets. 

Seeing that they considered it an honor, Mrs. Jo gave 
it to the one who had earned it, and nobody grumbled 
when she put her arm on Dan's broad shoulder, saying, 
with a look that made him color up with pride and 
pleasure, 



HUCKLEBERRIES. 213 

" He found the children ; so I think he must help 
me up." 

Dan felt richly rewarded for his evening's work, not 
only that he was chosen from all the rest to go proudly 
up bearing the lamp, but because Mrs. Jo said, heartily, 
" Good-night, my boy ! God bless you ! " as he left her 
at her door. 

" I wish I was your boy," said Dan, who felt as if 
danger and trouble had somehow brought him nearer 
than ever to her. 

"You shall be my oldest son," and she sealed her 
promise with a kiss that made Dan hers entirely. 

Little Rob was all right next day, but Nan had a 
headache, and lay on Mother Bhaer's sofa with cold- 
cream upon her scratched face. Her remorse was quite 
gone, and she evidently thought being lost rather a fine 
amusement. Mrs. Jo was not pleased with this state 
of things, and had no desire to have her children led 
from the paths of virtue, or her pupils lying round loose 
in huckleberry fields. So she talked soberly to Nan, 
and tried to impress upon her mind the difference be- 
tween liberty and license, telling several tales to enforce 
her lecture. She had not decided how to punish Nan, 
but one of these stories suggested a way, and as Mrs. 
Jo liked odd penalties she tried it. 

" All children run away," pleaded Nan, as if it was as 
natural and necessary a thing as measles or hooping- 
ing cough. 

" Not all, and some who do run away don't get found 
again," answered Mrs. Jo. 

"Didn't you do it yourself?" asked Nan, whose 
keen little eyes saw some traces of a kindred spirit 



014 LITTLE MEN, 

in the serious lady who was sewing so morally before 
her. 

Mrs. Jo laughed, and owned that she did. 

" Tell about it," demanded Nan, feeling that she was 
getting the upper hand in the discussion. 

Mrs. Jo saw that, and sobered down at once, saying, 
with a remorseful shake of the head, 

" I did it a good many times, and led my poor mother 
rather a hard life with my pranks, till she cured me." 

" How ? " and Nan sat up with a face full of interest. 

" I had a new pair of shoes once, and wanted to show 
them ; so, though I was told not to leave the garden, I 
ran away and was wandering about all day. It was in 
the city, and why I wasn't killed I don't know. Such 
a time as I had. I frolicked in the park with dogs, 
sailed boats in the Back Bay with strange boys, dined 
with a little Irish beggar-girl on salt fish and potatoes, 
and was found at last fast asleep on a door-step with 
my arms round a great dog. It w r as late in the even- 
ing, and I was as dirty as a little pig, and the new shoes 
were worn out I had travelled so far." 

" How nice ! ' cried Nan, looking all ready to go and 
do it herself. 

" It was not nice next day ; " and Mrs. Jo tried to 
keep her eyes from betraying how much she enjoyed 
the memory of her early capers. 

" Did your mother whip you ? " asked Nan, curiously. 

" She never whipped me but once, and then she 
begged my pardon, or I don't think I ever should have 
forgiven her, it hurt my feelings so much." 

"Why did she beg your pardon ? my father don't." 

" Because, when she had done it, I turned round and 



HUCKLEBERRIES. 215 

said, 'Well, you are mad yourself, and ought to be 
whipped as much as me.' She looked at me a minute, 
then her anger all died out, and she said, as if ashamed, 
; You are right, Jo, I am angry; and why should I 
punish you for being in a passion when I set you such 
a bad example ? Forgive me, dear, and let us try to 
help one another in a better way.' I never forgot it, 
and it did me more good than a dozen rods." 
. Nan sat thoughtfully turning the little cold-cream jar 
for a minute, and Mrs. Jo said nothing, but let that idea 
get well into the busy little mind that was so quick to 
see and feel what went on about her. 

" I like that," said Nan, presently, and her face looked 
less elfish, with its sharp eyes, inquisitive nose, and 
mischievous mouth. "What did your mother do to 
you when you ran away that time ? " 

" She tied me up to the bed-post with a long string, 
so that I could not go out of the room, and there I 
stayed all day with the little worn-out shoes hanging 
up before me to remind me of my fault." 

"I should think that would cure anybody," cried 
Nan, who loved her liberty above all things. 

" It did cure me, and I think it will you, so I am 
going to try it," said Mrs. Jo, suddenly taking a ball of 
strong twine out of a drawer in her work-table. 

Nan looked as if she was decidedly getting the worst 
of the argument now, and sat feeling much crestfallen 
while Mrs. Jo tied one end round her waist and the 
other to the arm of the sofa, saying, as she finished 

" I don't like to tie you up like a naughty little dog, 
but if you don't remember any better than a dog, I 
must treat you like one." 



216 LITTLE MEN. 

"I'd just as lief be tied up as not I like to play 
dog;" and Nan put on a don't-care face, and began to 
growl and grovel on the floor. 

Mrs. Jo took no notice, but leaving a book or two and 
a handkerchief to hem, she went away, and left Miss 
Nan to her own devices. This was not agreeable, and 
after sitting a moment she tried to untie the cord. But 
it was fastened in the belt of her apron behind, so she 
began on the knot at the other end. It soon came 
loose, and, gathering it up, Nan was about to get out 
of the window, when she heard Mrs. Jo say to some- 
body as she passed through the hall 

" No, I don't think she will run away now ; she is an 
honorable little girl, and knows that I do it to help 
her." 

In a minute Nan whisked back, tied herself up, and 
began to sew violently. Rob came in a moment after, 
and was so charmed with the new punishment, that he 
got a jump-rope and tethered himself to the other arm 
of the sofa in the most social manner. 

" I got lost too, so I ought to be tied up as much as 
Nan," he explained to his mother when she saw the 
new captive. 

" I 'm not sure that you don't deserve a little punish- 
ment, for you knew it was wrong to go far away from 
the rest." 

" Nan took me," began Rob, willing to enjoy the 
novel penalty, but not willing to take the blame,, 

" You needn't have gone. You have got a conscience, 
though you are a little boy, and you must learn to 
mind it." 

" Well, my conscience didn't prick me a bit when she 



HUCKLEBERRIES. 217 

said i Let 's get over the wal ,' " answered Rob, quoting 
one of Demi's expressions. 

" Did you stop to see if it did ? " 

" No." 

" Then you cannot tell." 

" I guess it 's such a little conscience that it don't 
prick hard enough for me to feel it," added Rob, after 
thinking over the matter for a minute. 

" We must sharpen it up. It 's bad to have a dull 
conscience ; so you may stay here till dinner-time, and 
talk about it with Nan. I trust you both not to untie 
yourselves till I say the word." 

" No, we won't," said both, feeling a certain sense of 
virtue in helping to punish themselves. 

For an hour they were very good, then they grew 
tired of one room, and longed to get out. Never had 
the hall seemed so inviting; even the little bedroom 
acquired a sudden interest, and they would gladly 
have gone in and played tent with the curtains of the 
best bed. The open windows drove them wild because 
they could not reach them ; and the outer world seemed 
so beautiful, they wondered how they ever found the 
heart to say it was dull. Nan pined for a race round 
the lawn, and Rob remembered with dismay that he 
had not fed his dog that morning, and wondered what 
poor Pollux would do. They watched the clock, and 
Nan did some nice calculations in minutes and seconds, 
while Rob learned to tell all the hours between eight and 
one so well that he never forgot them. It was madden- 
ing to smell the dinner, to know that there was to be 
succotash and huckleberry pudding, and to feel that 
they would not be on the spot to secure good helps of 



218 LITTLE MEN. 

both. When Mary Ann began to set the table, they 
nearly cut themselves in two trying to see what meat 
there was to be ; and Nan offered to help her make the 
beds, if she would only see that she had " lots of sauce 
on her pudding." 

When the boys came bursting out of school, they 
found the children tugging at their halters like a pair 
of restive little colts, and were much edified, as well as 
amused, by the sequel to the exciting adventures of the 
night. 

" Untie me now, Marmar ; my conscience will prick 
like a pin next time, I know it will," said Rob, as the 
bell rang, and Teddy came to look at him with sorrowful 
surprise. 

" We shall see," answered his mother, setting him 
free. He took a good run down the hall, back through 
the dining-room, and brought up beside Nan, quite 
beaming with virtuous satisfaction. 

" I '11 bring her dinner to her, may I ? " he asked, 
pitying his fellow-captive. 

" That 's my kind little son ! Yes, pull out the table, 
and get a chair ; " and Mrs. Jo hurried away to quell 
the ardor of the others, who were always in a raging 
state of hunger at noon. 

Nan ate alone, and spent a long afternoon attached 
to the sofa, Mrs. Bhaer lengthened her bonds so that 
she could look out of the window ; and there she stood 
watching the boys play, and all the little summer creat- 
ures enjoying their liberty. Daisy had a pic-nic for 
the dolls on the lawn, so that Nan might see the fun if 
she could not join in it. Tommy turned his best somer- 
saults to console her ; Demi sat on the steps reading 



HUCKLEBERRIES. 219 

aloud to himself, which amused Nan a good deal ; and 
Dan brought a little tree-toad to show her as the most 
delicate attention in his power. 

But nothing atoned for the loss of freedom ; and a 
few hours of confinement taught Nan how precious it 
was. A good many thoughts went through the little 
head that lay on the window-sill during the last quiet 
hour when all the children went to the brook to see 
Emil's new ship launched. She was to have christened 
it, and had depended on smashing a tiny bottle of cur- 
rant-wine over the prow as it was named Josephine in 
honor of Mrs. Bhaer. Now she had lost her chance, 
and Daisy wouldn't do it half so well. Tears rose to 
her eyes as she remembered that it was all her own 
fault ; and she said aloud, addressing a fat bee who was 
rolling about in the yellow heart of a rose just under 
the window 

" If you have run away, you 'd better go right home, 
and tell your mother you are sorry, and never do so 
any more." 

" I am glad to hear you give him such good advice, 
and I think he has taken it," said Mrs. Jo, smiling, as 
the bee spread his dusty wings and flew away. 

Nan brushed off a bright drop or two that shone on 
the window-sill, and nestled against her friend as she 
took her on her knee, adding kindly for she had seen 
the little drops, and knew what they meant 

" Do you think my mother's cure for running away a 
good one?" 

" Yes, ma'am," answered Nan, quite subdued by her 
quiet day. 

" I hope I shall not have to try it again." 



220 LITTLE MEN. 

"I guess not;" and Nan looked up with such an 
earnest little face that Mrs. Jo felt satisfied, and said 
no more, for she liked to have her penalties do their 
own work, and did not spoil the effect by too much 
moralizing. 

Here Rob appeared, bearing with infinite care what 
Asia called a " sarcer pie," meaning one baked in a 
saucer. 

" It 's made out of some of my berries, and I 'm going 
to give you half at supper-time," he announced, with a 
flourish. 

" What makes you, when I 'm so naughty ? '" asked 
Nan, meekly. 

" Because we got lost together. You ain't going to 
be naughty again, are you ? " 

" Never," said Nan, with great decision. 

" Oh, goody ! now let 's go and get Mary Ann to cut 
this for us all ready to eat ; it 's 'most tea-time ; " and 
Rob beckoned with the delicious little pie. 

Nan started to follow, then stopped, and said 

" I forgot, I can't go." 

" Try and see," said Mrs. Bhaer, who had quietly 
untied the cord sash while she had been talking. 

Nan saw that she was free, and with one tempestuous 
kiss to Mrs. Jo, she was off like a humming-bird, 
followed by Robby, dribbling huckleberry juice as he 
ran. 



CHAPTER XIIL 

GOLDILOCKS. 

AFTER the last excitement peace descended upon 
Plumfield and reigned unbroken for several weeks, 
for the elder boys felt that the loss of Nan and Rob lay 
at their door, and all became so paternal in their care 
that they were rather wearying ; while the little ones 
listened to Nan's recital of her perils so many times, 
that they regarded being lost as the greatest ill hu- 
manity was heir to, and hardly dared to put their little 
noses outside the great gate lest night should suddenly 
descend upon them, and ghostly black cows come 
looming through the dusk. 

" It is too good to last," said Mrs. Jo ; for years of 
boy-culture had taught her that such lulls were usually 
followed by outbreaks of some sort, and when less wise 
women would have thought that the boys had become 
confirmed saints, she prepared herself for a sudden 
eruption of the domestic volcano. 

One cause of this welcome calm was a visit from little 
Bess, whose parents lent her for a week while they 
were away with Grandpa Laurence, who was poorly. 
The boys regarded Goldilocks as a mixture of child, 
angel, and fairy, for she was a lovely little creature, and 



222 LITTLE MEN. 

the golden hair which she inherited from her blonde 
mamma enveloped her like a shining veil, behind 
which she smiled upon her worshippers when gracious, 
and hid herself when offended. Her father would not 
have it cut, and it hung below her waist, so soft and 
fine and bright, that Demi insisted that it was silk spun 
from a cocoon. Every one praised the little Princess, 
but it did not seem to do her harm, only to teach her 
that her presence brought sunshine, her smiles made 
answering smiles on other faces, and her baby griefs 
filled every heart with tenderest sympathy. 

Unconsciously she did her young subjects more good 
than many a real sovereign, for her rule was very gentle 
and her power was felt rather than seen. Her natural 
refinement made her dainty in all things, and had a 
good effect upon the careless lads about her. She 
would let no one touch her roughly or with unclean 
hands, and more soap was used during her visits than 
at any other time, because the boys considered it the 
highest honor to be allowed to carry her highness, and 
the deepest disgrace to be repulsed with the disdainful 
command, " Do away, dirty boy ! ' : 

Loud voices displeased her and quarrelling frightened 
her; so gentler tones came into the boyish voices as they 
addressed her, and squabbles were promptly suppressed 
in her presence by lookers-on if the principals could 
not restrain themselves. She liked to be waited on, 
and the biggest boys did her little errands without a 
murmur, while the small lads were her devoted slaves 
in all things. They begged to be allowed to draw her 
carriage, bear her berry-basket, or pass her plate at 
table. No service was too humble, and Tommy and 



GOLDILOCKS. 223 

Ned came to blows before they could decide which 
should have the honor of blacking her little boots. 

Nan was especially benefited by a week in the society 
of a well-bred lady, though such a very small one ; for 
Bess would look at her with a mixture of wonder and 
alarm in her great blue eyes when the hoyden screamed 
and romped ; and she shrunk from her as if she thought 
her a sort of wild animal. Warm-hearted Nan felt this 
very much. She said at first, " Pooh ! I don't care ! " 
But she did care, and was so hurt when Bess said, "I 
love my tuzzin best, tause she is twiet," that she shook 
poor Daisy till her teeth chattered in her head, and 
then fled to the barn to cry dismally. In that general 
refuge for perturbed spirits she found comfort and good 
counsel from some source or other. Perhaps the 
swallows from their mud-built nests overhead twittered 
her a little lecture on the beauty of gentleness. How- 
ever that might have been, she came out quite subdued, 
and carefully searched the orchard for a certain kind of 
early apple that Bess liked because it was sweet and 
small and rosy. Armed with this peace-offering, she 
approached the Princess, and humbly presented it. 
To her great joy it was graciously accepted, and wheii 
Daisy gave Nan a forgiving kiss, Bess did likewise, as if 
she felt that she had been too severe and desired to 
apologize. After this they played pleasantly together, 
and Nan enjoyed the royal favor for days. To be sure 
she felt a little like a wild bird in a pretty cage at first, 
and occasionally had to slip out to stretch her wings 
in a long flight, or to sing at the top of her voice, where 
neither would disturb the plump turtle-dove Daisy, nor 
the dainty golden canary Bess. But it did her good ; 



224 LITTLE MEN. 

for, seeing how every one loved the little Princess for 
her small graces and virtues, she began to imitate 
her, because Nan wanted much love, and tried hard to 
win it. 

Not a boy in the house but felt the pretty child's in- 
fluence, and was improved by it without exactly know- 
ing how or why, for babies can work miracles in the 
hearts that love them. Poor Billy found infinite satis- 
faction in staring at her, and though she did not like it 
she permitted it without a frown, after she had been 
made to understand that he Avas not quite like the 
others, and on that account must be more kindly 
treated. Dick and Dolly overwhelmed her with 
willow whistles, the only thing they knew how to make, 
and she accepted but never used. them. Rob served 
her like a little lover, and Teddy followed her like a 
pet dog. Jack she did not like, because he was afflicted 
with warts and had a harsh voice. Stuffy displeased 
her because he did not eat tidily, and George tried 
hard not to gobble, that he might not disgust the 
dainty little lady opposite. Ned was banished from 
court in utter disgrace when he was discovered torment- 
ing some unhappy field-mice. Goldilocks never could 
forget the sad spectacle, and retired behind her veil 
when he approached, waving him away with an im- 
perious little hand, and crying, in a tone of mingled 
grief and anger, 

No, I tarn't love him ; he tut the poor mouses' little 
tails off, and they queeked ! " 

Daisy promptly abdicated when Bess came, and took 
the humble post of chief cook, while Nan was first maid 
of honor ; Emil was chancellor of the exchequer, and 



GOLDILOCKS. 225 

spent the public moneys lavishly in getting up spectacles 
that cost whole ninepences. Franz was prime minister, 
and directed her affairs of state, planned royal prog- 
resses through the kingdom, and kept foreign powers 
hi order. Demi was her philosopher, and fared much 
better than such gentlemen usually do among crowned 
heads. Dan was her standing army, and defended her 
territories gallantly ; Tommy was court fool, and Nat a 
tuneful Rizzio to this innocent little Mary. 

Uncle Fritz and Aunt Jo enjoyed this peaceful epi- 
sode, and looked on at the pretty play in which the 
young folk unconsciously imitated their elders, without 
adding the tragedy that is so apt to spoil the dramas 
acted on the larger stage. 

" They teach us quite as much as we teach them," 
said Mr. Bhaer. 

" Bless the dears ! they never guess how many hints 
they give us as to the best way of managing them," 
answered Mrs. Jo. 

" I think you were right about the good effect of 
having girls among the boys. Nan has stirred up Daisy, 
and Bess is teaching the little bears how to behave 
better than we can. If this reformation goes on as it 
has begun, I shall soon feel like Dr. Blimber with his 
model young gentlemen," said Professor, laughing, as he 
jaw Tommy not only remove his own hat, but knock 
i>ff Ned's also, as they entered the hall where the Prin- 
cess was taking a ride on the rocking-horse, attended by 
Rob and Teddy astride of chairs, and playing gallant 
knights to the best of their ability. 

" You will never be a Blimber, Fritz, you couldn't do 
it if you tried; and our boys will never submit to the 

15 



226 LITTLE MEN. 

forcing process of that famous hot-bed. No fear that 
they will be too elegant : American boys like liberty 
too well. But good manners they cannot fail to have, 
if we give them the kindly spirit that shines through 
the simplest demeanor, making it courteous and cord- 
ial, like yours, my dear old boy." 

" Tut ! tut ! we will not compliment ; for if I begin 
you will run away, and I have a wish to enjoy this 
happy half hour to the end ; " yet Mr. Bhaer looked 
pleased with the compliment, for it was true, and Mrs. 
Jo felt that she had received the best her husband could 
give her, by saying that he found his truest rest and 
happiness in her society. 

" To return to the children : I have just had another 
proof of Goldilocks' good influence," said Mrs. Jo, draw- 
ing her chair nearer the sofa, where the Professor lay 
resting after a long day's work in his various gardens. 
" Nan hates sewing, but for love of Bess has been toiling 
half the afternoon over a remarkable bag* 1 in which to 

^j 

present a dozen of our love-apples to her idol when she 
goes. I praised her for it, and she said, in her quick 
way, ' I like to sew for other people ; it is stupid sewing 
for myself.' I took the hint, and shall give her some 
little shirts and aprons for Mrs. Carney's children. She 
is so generous, she will sew her fingers sore for them, 
and I shall not have to make a task of it." 

" But needlework is not a fashionable accomplishment, 
my dear." 

" Sorry for it. My girls shall learn all I can teach 
them about it, even if they give up the Latin, Algebra, 
and half-a-dozen ologies it is considered necessary for 
girls to muddle their poor brains over now-a-days. 



GOLDILOCKS. 227 

Amy means to make Bess an accomplished woman; 
but the dear's mite of a forefinger has little pricks on it 
already, and her mother has several specimens of needle- 
work which she values more than the clay bird with- 
out a bill, chat filled Laurie with such pride when Bess 
made it." 

" I also have a proof of the Princess's power,'* said 
Mr. Bhaer, after he had watched Mrs. Jo sew on a 
button with an air of scorn for the whole system of 
fashionable education. "Jack is so unwilling to be 
classed with Stuffy and Ned, as distasteful to Bess, that 
ho came to me a little while ago, and asked me to touch 
his warts with caustic. I have often proposed it, and 
he never would consent ; but now he bore the smart 
manfully, and consoles his present discomfort by hopes 
of future favor, when he can show her fastidious lady- 
ship a smooth hand." 

Mrs. Bhaer laughed at the story, and just then Stuffy 
came in to ask if he might give Goldilocks some of the 
bonbons his mother had sent him. 

" She is not allowed to eat sweeties ; but if you like 
to give her the pretty box with the pink sugar-rose in 
it, she would like it very much," said Mrs. Jo, unwilling 
to spoil this unusual piece of self-denial, for the " fat 
boy " seldom offered to share his sugar-plums. 

" Won't she eat it ? I shouldn't like to make her 
sick," said Stuffy, eying the delicate sweetmeat lovingly, 
yet putting it into the box. 

" Oh, no, she won't touch it, if I tell her it is to look 
at, not to eat. She will keep it for weeks, and never 
think of tasting it. Can you do as much ? ' v 

" I should hope so ! I 'm ever so much older than 
she is," cried Stuffy, indignantly. 



228 LITTLE HEX. 

" Well, suppose we try. Here, put your bonbons in 
this bag, and see how long you can keep them. Let 
me count two hearts, four red fishes, three barley- 
Bugar horses, nine almonds, and a dozen chocolate 
drops. Do you agree to that?" asked sly Mrs. Jo. 
popping the sweeties into her little spool-bag. 

" Yes," said Stuffy, with a sigh ; and pocketing the 
forbidden fruit, he went away to give Bess the present, 
that won a smile from her, and permission to escort her 
round the garden. 

O 

" Poor Stuffy' s heart has really got the better of his 
stomach at last, and his efforts will be much encouraged 
by the rewards Bess gives him," said Mrs. Jo. 

"Happy the man who can put temptation in his 
pocket and learn self-denial from so sweet a little 
teacher ! " added Mr. Bhaer, as the children passed the 
window, Stuffy's fat face full of placid satisfaction, and 
Goldilocks surveying her sugar-rose with polite interest, 
though she would have preferred a real flower with a 

" pitty smell." 

When her father came to take her home, a universal 
wail arose, and the parting gifts showered upon her 
increased her luggage to such an extent that Mr. 
Laurie proposed having out the big wagon to take it 
into town. Every one had given her something ; and 
it was found difficult to pack white mice, cake, a parcel 
of shells, apples, a rabbit kicking violently in a bag, a 
large cabbage for his refreshment, a bottle of minnows, 
and a mammoth bouquet. The farewell scene was 
moving, for the Princess sat upon the hall-table, sur- 
rounded by her subjects. She kissed her cousins, and 
held out her hand to the other boys, who shook it 



GOLDILOCKS. 229 

gently with various soft speeches, for they were taught 
not to be ashamed of showing their emotions. 

"Come again, soon, little dear," whispered Dan> 
fastening his best green-and-gold beetle in her hat. 

" Don't forgot me, Princess, whatever you do," said 
the engaging Tommy, taking a last stroke of the pretty 

hair. 

" I am coming to your house next week, and then I 
shall see you, Bess," added Nat, as if he found consola- 
tion in the thought. 

" Do shake hands now," cried Jack, offering a smooth 
paw. 

" Here are two nice new ones to remember us by," 
said Dick and Dolly, presenting fresh whistles, quite 
unconscious that seven old ones had been privately 
deposited in the kitchen-stove. 

" My little precious ! I shall work you a book-mark 
right away, and you must keep it always" said Nan, 
with a warm embrace. 

But of all the farewells, poor Billy's was the most 
pathetic, for the thought that she was really going 
became so unbearable that he cast himself down before 
her, hugging her little blue boots and blubbering de- 
spairingly, "Don't go away! oh, don't!" Goldilocks 
was so touched by this burst of feeling, that she leaned 
over and lifting the poor lad's head, said, in her soft, 
little voice, 

" Don't cry, poor Billy ! I will tiss you and turn 
adain soon." 

This promise consoled Billy, and he fell back beam- 
ing with pride at the unusual honor conferred upon 
him. 



230 LITTLE HEX. 

" Me too ! me too ! " clamored Dick and Dolly, feel- 
ing that their devotion deserved some return. The 
others looked as if they would like to join in the cry ; 
and something in the kind, merry faces about her moved 
the Princess to stretch out her arms and say, with reck- 
less condescension, 

" I will tiss evvybody ! " 

Like a swarm of bees about a very sweet flower, the- 
affectionate lads surrounded their pretty playmate, and 
kissed her till she looked like a little rose, not roughly, 
but so enthusiastically that nothing but the crown of 
her hat was visible for a moment. Then her father 
rescued her, and she drove away still smiling and 
waving her hands, while the boys sat on the fence 
screaming like a flock of guinea-fowls, " Come back ! 
come back ! " till she was out of sight. 

They all missed her, and each dimly felt that he was 
better for having known a creature so lovely, delicate, 
and sweet; for little Bess appealed to the chivalrous 
instinct in them as something to love, admire, and pn> 
tect with a tender sort of reverence. Many men 
remember some pretty child who has made a place in 
his heart and kept her memory alive by the simple 
magic of her innocence ; these little men were just 
learning to feel this power, and to love it for its gentle 
influence, not ashamed to let the small hand lead them, 
nor to own their loyalty to womankind, even in the 
bud. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

DAMON AND PYTHIAS. 

MRS BHAER was right; peace was only a tem- 
porary lull, a storm was brewing, and two days 
after Bess left, a moral earthquake shook Plumfield to 
its centre. 

Tommy's hens were at the bottom of the trouble, for 
if they had not persisted in laying so many eggs, he 
could not have sold them and made such sums. Money 
is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root 
that we cannot get on without it any more than we can 
without potatoes. Tommy certainly could not, for he 
spent his income so recklessly, that Mr. Bhaer was 
obliged to insist on a savings-bank, and presented him 
with a private one an imposing tin edifice, with the 
name over the door, and a tall chimney, down which 
the pennies were to go, there to rattle temptingly till 
leave was given to open a sort of trap-door in the floor. 

The house increased in weight so rapidly, that 
Tommy soon became satisfied with his investment, and 
planned to buy unheard-of treasures with his capital. 
He kept account of the sums deposited, and was prom- 
ised that he might break the bank as soon as he had 
dollars, on condition that he spent the money 



232 LITTLE MEN. 

wisely. Only one dollar was needed, and the day Mrs, 
Jo paid him for four dozen eggs, he was so delighted, 
that he raced off to the barn to display the bright 
quarters to Nat, Avho was also laying by money for the 
long-desired violin. 

" I wish I had 'em to put with my three dollars, then 
I'd soon get enough to buy my fiddle," he said, looking 
wistfully at the money. 

" P'raps I '11 lend you some. I haven't decided yet 
what I '11 do with mine," said Tommy, tossing up his 
quarters, and catching them as they fell. 

" Hi ! boys ! come down to the brook and see what 
a jolly great snake Dan's got ! ' : called a voice from 
behind the barn. 

" Come on," said Tommy ; and, laying his money in- 
side the old winnowing machine, away he ran, followed 
by Nat. 

The snake was very interesting, and then a long chase 
after a lame crow, and its capture, so absorbed Tommy's 
mind and time, that he never thought of his money till 
he was safely in bed that night. 

" Never mind, no one but Nat knows where it is," 
said the easy-going lad, and fell asleep untroubled by 
any anxiety about his property. 

Next morning, just as the boys assembled for school, 
Tommy rushed into the room breathlessly, demand- 
ing 

" I say, who has got my dollar?" 

" What are you talking about ? " asked Franz. 

Tommy explained, and Nat corroborated his state- 
ment. 

Every one else declared they knew nothing about it, 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS. 233 

and began to look suspiciously at Nat, who got more 
and more alarmed and confused with each denial. 

" Somebody must have taken it," said Franz, aa 
Tommy shook his fist at the whole party, and wrath* 
fully declared that 

" By thunder turtles ! if I get hold of the thief, I 'U 
give him what he won't forget in a hurry." 

" Keep cool, Tom ; we shall find him out ; thieves 
always come to grief," said Dan, as one who knew some- 
thing of the matter. 

"May be some tramp slept in the barn and took it," 
suggested Ned. 

" No, Silas don't allow that ; besides, a tramp 
wouldn't go looking in that old machine for money," 
said Emil, with scorn. 

Wasn't it Silas himself? " said Jack. 

" Well, I like that ! Old Si is as honest as daylight. 
You wouldn't catch him touching a penny of ours," 
said Tommy, handsomely defending his chief admirer 
from suspicion. 

" Whoever it was had better tell, and not wait to be 
found out," said Demi, looking as if an awful misfortune 
had befallen the family. 

" I know you think it's me," broke out Nat, red and 
excited. 

"You are the only one who knew where it was,** 
said Franz. 

"I can't help it I didn't take it. I tell you I 
didn't I didn't ! " cried Nat, in a desperate sort of way. 

" Gently, gently, my son ! What is all this noise 
about ? " and Mr. Bhaer walked in among them. 

Tommy repeated the story of his loss, and, as he 



234 LITTLE MEN. 

listened, Mr. Bhaer's face grew graver and graver; 
for, with all their faults and follies, the lads till now 
had been honest. 

" Take your seats," he said ; and, when all were in 
their places, he added slowly, as his eye went from face 
to face with a grieved look, that was harder to bear 
than a storm of words, 

" Now, boys, I shall ask each one of you a single 
question, and I want an honest answer. I am not going 
to try to frighten, bribe, or surprise the truth out of you, 
for every one of you have got a conscience, and know 
what it is for. Now is the time to undo the wrong done 
to Tommy, and to set yourselves right before us all. I 
can forgive the yielding to a sudden temptation much 
easier than I can deceit. Don't add a lie to the theft, 
but confess frankly, and we will all try to help you 
make us forget and forgive." 

He paused a moment, and one might have heard a 
pin drop, the room was so still ; then slowly and im- 
pressively he put the question to each one, receiving the 
same answer in varying tones from all. Every face was 
flushed and excited, so that Mr. Bhaer could not take 
color as a witness, and some of the little boys were so 
frightened that they stammered over the two short 
words as if guilty, though it was evident that they 
could not be. When he came to Nat, his voice softened, 
for the poor lad looked so wretched, Mr. Bhaer felt for 
him. He believed him to be the culprit, and hoped to 
save the boy from another lie, by winning him to tell 
the truth without fear. 

" Now, my son, give me an honest answer. Did you 
take the money?" 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS. 235 

"No, sir!" and Nat looked up at him imploringly. 

As the words fell from his trembling lips, somebody 
hissed. 

" Stop that ! " cried Mr. Bhaer, with a sharp rap on 
his desk, as he looked sternly toward the corner whence 
the sound came. 

Ned, Jack, and Emil sat there, and the first two 
looked ashamed of themselves, but Emil called out 

" It wasn't me, uncle ! I 'd be ashamed to hit a fellow 
when he is down." 

" Good for you ! " cried Tommy, who was in a sad 
state of affliction at the trouble his unlucky dollar had 
made. 

" Silence ! " commanded Mr. Bhaer ; and when it 
came, he said soberly 

" I am very sorry, Nat, but evidences are against you, 
and your old fault makes us more ready to doubt you 
than we should be if we could trust you as we do some 
of the boys, who never fib. But mind, my child, I do 
not charge you with this theft ; I shall not punish 
you for it till I am perfectly sure, nor ask any thing more 
about it. I shall leave it for you to settle with your 
own conscience. If you are guilty, come to me at 
any hour of the day or night and confess it, and I will 
forgive and help you to amend. If you are innocent, 
the truth will appear sooner or later, and the instant it 
does, I will be the first to beg your pardon for doubting 
you, and will so gladly do my best to clear your charac- 
ter before us all." 

" I didn't ! I didn't !" sobbed Nat, with his head down 
upon his arms, for he could not bear the look of distrust 
and dislike which he read in the many eyes fixed on him. 



236 LITTLE MEN. 

" I hope not." Mr. Bhaer paused a minute, as if to 
give the culprit, whoever he might be, one more chance. 
Nobody spoke, however, and only sniffs of sympathy 
from some of the little fellows broke the silence. Mr. 
Bhaer shook his head, and added, regretfully, 

" There is nothing more to be done, then, and I have 
but one thing to say : I shall not speak of this again, 
and I wish you all to follow my example. I canuot 
expect you to feel as kindly toward any one whom you 
suspect as before this happened, but I do expect and 
desire that you will not torment the suspected person 
in any way, he will have a hard enough time with- 
out that. Now go to your lessons." 

" Father Bhaer let Nat off too easy," muttered Ned 
to Emil, as they got out their books. 

" Hold your tongue," growled Emil, who felt that this 
event was a blot upon the family honor. 

Many of the boys agreed with Ned, but Mr. Bhaer 
was right, nevertheless ; and Nat would have been 
wiser to confess on the spot and have the trouble over, 
for even the hardest whipping he ever received from his 
father was far easier to bear than the cold looks, the 
avoidance, and general suspicion that met him on all 
sides. If ever a boy was sent to Coventry and kept 
there, it was poor Nat ; and he suffered a week of slow 
torture, though not a hand was raised against him, and 
hardly a word said. 

That was the worst of it ; if they would only have 
talked it out, or even have thrashed him all round, he 
could have stood it better than the silent distrust that 
made every face so terrible to meet. Even Mrs. Bhaer's 
showed traces of it, though her manner was nearly as 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS- 237 

kind as ever ; but the sorrowful anxious look in Father 
Bhaer's eyes cut Nat to the heart, for he loved his teacher 
dearly, and knew that he had disappointed all his hopes 
by this double sin. 

Only one person in the house entirely believed in him, 
and stood up for him stoutly against all the rest. This 
was Daisy. She could not explain why she trusted him 
against all appearances, she only felt that she could not 
doubt him, and her warm sympathy made her strong to 
take his part. She would not hear a word against him 
from any one, and actually slapped h^r beloved Demi 
when he tried to convince her that it must have been 
Nat, because no one else knew where the money was. 

" May be the hens ate it ; they are greedy old things," 
she said ; and when Demi laughed, she lost her temper, 
slapped the amazed boy, and then burst out crying and 
ran away, still declaring, " He didn't ! he didn't ! he 
didn't ! " 

Neither aunt nor uncle tried to slmke the child's 
faith in her friend, but only hoped her innocent instinct 
might prove sure, and loved her all th^ better for it. 
Nat often said, after it was over, that he Couldn't have 
stood it, if it had not been for Daisy. When the others 
shunned him, she clung to him closer than ever, and 
turned her back on the rest. She did not sit on the 
stairs now when he solaced himself with the old fiddle, 
but went in and sat beside him, listening with a face so 
full of confidence and affection, that Nat forgot disgrace 
for a time, and was happy. She asked him to help her 
with her lessons, she cooked him marvellous messes in 
her kitchen, which he ate manfully) no matter what 
they were, for gratitude gave a sweet flavor to the most 



238 LITTLE MEN. 

distasteful. She proposed impossible games of cricket 
and ball, when she found that he shrank from joining 
the other boys. She put little nosegays from her gar- 
den on his desk, and tried in every way to show that 
she was not a fair-weather friend, but faithful through 
evil as well as good repute. Nan soon followed her 
example, in kindness at least ; curbed her sharp tongue, 
and kept her scornful little nose from, any demonstra- 
tion of doubt or dislike, which was good of Madame 
Giddy-gaddy, for she firmly believed that Nat took the 
money. 

Most of the boys let him severely alone, but Dan, 
though he said he despised him for being a coward, 
watched over him with a grim sort of protection, and 
promptly cuffed any lad who dared to molest his mate 
or make him afraid. His idea of friendship was as high 
as Daisy's, and, in his own rough way, he lived up to it 
as loyally. 

Sitting by the brook one afternoon, absorbed in the 
study of the domestic habits of water-spiders, he over-' 
heard a bit of conversation on the other side of the 
wall. Ned, who was intensely inquisitive, had been on 
tenter-hooks to know certainly who was the culprit; 
for of late one or two of the boys had begun to think 
that they were wrong, Nat was so steadfast in his de- 
nials, and so meek in his endurance of their neglect. 
This doubt had teased Ned past bearing, and he had 
several times privately beset Nat with questions, re- 
gardless of Mr. Bhaer's express command. Finding 
Nat reading alone on the shady side of the wall, Ned 
could not resist stopping for a nibble at the forbidden 
subject. He had worried Nat for some ten minutes 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS. 239 

bpfore Dan arrived, and the first word the spider-student 
neard were these, in Nat's patient, pleading voice, 

" Don't, Ned ! oh don't ! I can't tell you, be- 
cause I don't know, and it 's mean of you to keep 
nagging at me on the sly, when Father Bhaer told 
you not to plague me. You wouldn't dare to if Dan 
was round." 

" I ain't afraid of Dan ; he 's nothing but an old bully- 
Don't believe but what he took Tom's money, and you 
know it, and won't tell. Come, now ! " 

" He didn't, but, if he did, I would stand up for him, 
he has always been so good to me," said Nat, so ear- 
nestly, that Dan forgot his spiders, and rose quickly to 
thank him, but Ned's next words arrested him. 

" I know Dan did it, and gave the money to you. 
Shouldn't wonder if he got his living picking pockets 
before he came here, for nobody knows any thing about 
him but you," said Ned, not believing his own words, 
but hoping to get the truth out of Nat by making him 
angry. 

He succeeded in a part <f his ungenerous wish, for 
Nat cried out, fiercely, 

" If you say that again I '11 go and tell Mr. Bhaer all 
about it. I don't want to tell tales, but, by George ! I 
will, if you don't let Dan alone.*' 

" Then you '11 be a sneak, as well as a liar and a 
thief," began Ned, with a jeer, for Nat had borne insult 
to himself so meekly, the other did not believe he 
would dare to face the master just to stand up for Dan. 

What he might have added I cannot tell, for the 
words were hardly out of his mouth when a long arm from 
behind took him by the collar, and, jerking him over 



240 LITTLE 

the wall in a most promiscuous way, landed him with a 
splash in the middle of the brook. 

" Say that again and I '11 duck you till you can't see!" 
cried Dan, looking like a modern Colossus of Rhodes 
as he stood, with a foot on either side the narrow stream, 
glaring down at the discomfited youth in the water. 

" I was only in fun," said Ned. 

" You are a sneak yourself to badger Nat round the 
corner. Let me catch you at it again, and I '11 souse 

V d? 

you in the river next time. Get up, and clear out ! ' : 
thundered Dan, in a rage. 

Ned fled, dripping, and his impromptu sitz-bath 
evidently did him good, for he was very respectful to 
both the boys after that, and seemed to have left his 
curiosity in the brook. As lie vanished Dan jumped 
over the wall, and found Nat lying as if quite worn out 
and bowed down with his troubles. 

" He won't pester you again, I guess. If he does, 
just tell me, and I '11 see to him," said Dan, trying to 
cool down. 

" I don't mind what he says about me so much, I Ve 
got used to it," answered Nat, sadly ; " but I hate to 
have him pitch into you." 

" How do you know he isn't right ? " asked Dan. 

V ^J ' 

turning his face away. 

"What, about the money?" cried Nat, looking up 
<vith a startled air. 

" Yes." 

" But I don't believe it ! You don't care for money ; 
all you want is your old bugs and things," and Nat 
laughed, incredulously. 

"I want a butterfly-net as much as you want a fiddle ; 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS. 241 

why shouldn't I steal the money for it as much as you ? " 
said Dan, still turning away, and busily punching holes 
in the turf with his stick. 

" I don't think you would. You like to fight and knock 
folks round sometimes, but you don't lie, and I don't be- 
lieve you 'd steal," and Nat shook his head decidedly. 

" I 've done both. I used to fib like fury ; it 's too 
much trouble now; and I stole things to eat out of 
gardens when I ran away from Page, so you see I am 
a bad lot," said Dan, speaking in the rough, reckless 
way which he had been learning to drop lately. 

" O Dan ! don't say it 's you ! I 'd rather have it any 
of the other boys," cried Nat, in such a distressed tone 
that Dan looked pleased, and show T ed that he did, by 
turning round with a queer expression in his face, 
though he only answered 

" I won't say any thing about it. But don't you fret, 
and we'll pull through somehow, see if we don't." 

Something in his face and manner gave Nat a new 
idea ; and he said, pressing his hands together, in the 
eagerness of his appeal, 

" I think you know who did it. If you do, beg him 
to tell, Dan. It 's so hard to have 'em all hate me for 
nothing. I don't think I can bear it much longer. If 
I had any place to go to, I 'd run away, though I love 
Plumfield dearly ; but I 'm not brave and big like you, 
so I must stay and wait till some one shows them that 
I haven't lied." 

As he spoke, Nat looked so broken and despairing, 
that Dan could not bear it, and, muttering huskily 

" You won't wait long," he walked rapidly away, and 
was seen no more for hours. 

16 



LITTLE 



v - What is the matter with Dan '? " asked the bovs of 



one another several times during the Sunday that fol- 
lowed a week which seemed as if it would at vtr end. 
Dan was often nioodv. but that dav he was so sober and 

* 

silent that no one could get any thing out of him. 
When thev walked he straved awav from the rest, and 

* 

came home late. He took no part in the evening con- 
versation, but sat in the shadow, so busy with his own 
thoughts that he scarcely seemed to hear what was 
going on. When Mrs. Jo showed him an unusually 
good report in the Conscience Book, he looked at it 
without a smile, and said, wistfully. 

* You think I am getting on, don't you 1 " 

" Excellently. Dan ! and I am so pleased, because I 
always thought you only needed a little help to make 
you a boy to be proud of. " 

He looked up at her with a strange expression in his 
black eyes an expression of mingled pride and love 
and sorrow which she could not understand then but 
remembered afterward. 

I "m afraid you '11 be disappointed, but I do try/' he 
said, shutting the book without a sign of pleasure in 
the page that he usually liked so much to read over 
and talk about. 

" Are vou sick, dear ? ? ' asked Mrs. Jo, with her hand 



on his shoulder. 

" My foot aches a little : I guess I *11 go to bed. Good- 
night, mother.** he added, and held the hand against 
his cheek a minute, then went awav looking: as if he 



had said grood-bv to something: verv dear. 



- Poor Dan ! he takes Xat's disgrace to heart sadly. 
He is a strange bov : I wonder if I ever shall under* 

' 



DAM OS AXD PYTHIAS. 243 

stand him thoroughly?" said Mrs. Jo to herself, as she 
thought over Dan's late improvement with real satis- 
faction, yet felt that there was more in the lad than she 
had at first su-pected. 

One of the things which cut Xat most deeply was an 
act of Tommy'-, for alter his loss Tommy had said to 
him, kindlv but firmly, 

V *. ' 

' I don't wish to hurt you, Xat. but you see I can't 
afford to lose my money. BO I guess we won't be part- 
ners any longer ; '' and with that Tommy rubbed out 
the sign, u T. Banga & Co." 

Xat had been very proud of the Co.." and had 
hunted ecrss industriously, kept his accounts all straight. 

* 1 

and had added a good sum to his income from the sale 
of his share of stock in trade. 

" O, Tom ! must you '? "" he said, feeling that his good 
name was gone for ever in the business world if this 
was done. 

'I must," returned Tommy, firmly. '-Emil savs that 

V 

when one man 'bezzles (I believe that 's the word it- 
means to take money and cut awav with it) the 

, *. 

property of a firm, the other one sues him. or pitches 
into him somehow, and won't have any thins: more to 

*, _ 

do with him. Xow you have "bezzled my property ; I 
shan't sue you, and I shan't pitch into you. but I must 
dissolve the partnership, because I can't trust you, and 
I don't wish to fail." 

' I can't make vou believ^ me. and you won't take 

*. * 

my money, though I VI be thankful to give all my dollars 
if you'd only say you don't think I took your money. 
Do let me hunt for you. I won't ask any wages, but do 
it for nothing. I know all the places, and I like it," 
pleaded Xat. 



244 LITTLE MEN. 

But Tommy shook his head, and his jolly round face 
looked suspicious and hard as he said, shortly, " Can't 
do it; wish you didn't know the places. Mind you 
don't go hunting on the sly, and speculate in my eggs." 

Poor Nat was so hurt that he could not get over it. 
He lelt that he had lost not only his partner and patron, 
but that he was bankrupt in honor, and an outlaw from 
the business community. No one trusted his word 
written or spoken, in spite of his efforts to redeem th< 
past falsehood ; the sign was down, the firm broken up, 
and he a ruined man. The barn, which was the boys' 
Wall Street, knew him no more. Cockletop and her 
sisters cackled for him in vain, and really seemed to 
take his misfortune to heart, for eggs were fewer, and 
some of the biddies retired in disgust to new nests, 
which Tommy could not find. 

" They trust me," said Nat, when he heard of it ; and 
though the boys shouted at the idea, Nat found comfort 
in it, for when one is down in the world, the confidence 
of even a speckled hen is most consoling. 

Tommy took no new partner, however, for distrust 
had entered in, and poisoned the peace of his once con- 
fiding soul. Ned offered to join him, but he declined, 
saying, with a sense of justice that did him honor 

" It might turn out that Nat didn't take my money, 
and then we could be partners again. I don't think it 
will happen, but I will give him a chance, and keep the 
place open a little longer." 

Billy was the only person whom Bangs felt he could 
trust in his shop, and Billy was trained to hunt eggs, 
and hand them over unbroken, being quite satisfied 
with an apple or a sugar-plum for wages. The morn- 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS. 245 

ing after Dan's gloomy Sunday, Billy said to his 
employer, as he displayed the results of a long hunt > 

" Only two." 

" It gets worse and worse ; I never saw such provok* 
ing old hens," growled Tommy, thinking of the days 
when he often had six to rejoice over. " Well, put 'em 
in my hat and give me a new bit of chalk ; I must mark 
'em up, any way." 

Billy mounted a peck-measure, and looked into the 
top of the machine, where Tommy kept his writing 
materials. 

" There 's lots of money in here," said Billy. 

" No, there isn't. Catch me leaving my cash round 
again," returned Tommy. 

" I see 'em one, four, eight, two dollars," persisted 
Billy, w r ho had not yet mastered the figures correctly. 

" What a jack you are ! " and Tommy hopped up to 
get the chalk for himself, but nearly tumbled down 
again, for there actually were four bright quarters in a 
row, with a bit of paper on them directed to " Tom 
Bangs," that there might be no mistake. 

" Thunder turtles ! ' cried Tommy, and seizing them 
he dashed into the house, bawling wildly, " It 's all right ! 
Got my money ! Where 's Nat ? " 

He was soon found, and his surprise and pleasure 
were so genuine that few doubted his word when he 
now denied all knowledge of the money. 

" How could I put it back when I didn't take it ? 
Do believe me now, and be good to me again," he said, 
so imploringly, that Emil slapped him on the back, and 
declared he would for one. 

So will I, and I'm jolly glad it's not you. But 



246 LITTLE MEN. 

who the dickens is it?" said Tommy, after shaking 
hands heartilv with Nat. 

*/ 

" Never mind, as long as it 's found," said Dan, with 
his eyes fixed on Nat's happy face. 

" Well, I like that ! I 'm not going to have my things 
hooked, and then brought back like the juggling man's, 
tricks," cried Tommy, looking at his money as if he 
suspected witchcraft. 

" We '11 find him out somehow, though he was sly 
enough to print this so his writing wouldn't be known," 
said Franz, examining the paper. 

" Demi prints tip-top," put in Rob, who had not a 
very clear idea Avhat the fuss was all about. 

" You can't make me believe it 's him, not if you talk 
till you are blue," said Tommy, and the others hooted 
at the mere idea ; for the little deacon, as they called 
him, was above suspicion. 

Nat felt the diiFerence in the way they spoke of Demi 
and himself, and would have given all he had or ever 
hoped to have, to be so trusted ; for he had learned how 
easy it is to lose the confidence of others, how very, very 
hard to win it back, and truth became to him a precious 
thing since he had suffered from neglecting it. 

Mr. Bhaer was very glad one step had been taken in 
the right direction, and waited hopefully for yet further 
revelations. They came sooner than he expected, and 
in a way that surprised and grieved him very much. 
As they sat at supper that night, a square parcel was 
handed to Mr. Bhaer from Mrs. Bates, a neighbor. A 
note accompanied the parcel, and, Avhile Mi\ Bhaer read 
it, Demi pulled oiF the wrapper, exclaiming, as he saw 
its contents, 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS. 247 

"Why, it 's the book Uncle Teddy gave Dan ! " 

" The devil ! '' broke from Dan, for he had not yet 
quite cured himself of swearing, though he tried hard. 

Mr. Bhaer looked up quickly at the sound. Dan 
fcried to meet his eyes, but could not ; his own fell, and 
he sat biting his lips, getting redder and redder till he 
was the picture of shame. 

" What is it ? w asked Mrs. Bhaer, anxiously. 

" I should have preferred to talk about this in private, 
but Demi has spoilt that plan, so I may as well have it 
out now," said Mr. Bhaer, looking a little stern, as he 
always did when any meanness or deceit came up for 
judgment. 

" The note is from Mrs. Bates, and she says, that her 
boy Jimmy told her he bought this book of Dan last 
Saturday. She saw that it was worth much more than 
a dollar, and thinking there was some mistake, has sent 
it to me. Did you sell it, Dan ? " 

" Yes, sir," was the slow answer. 

Why ? " 

" Wanted money." 

"For what?" 

" To pay somebody." 

' To whom did you owe it ? " 

" Tommy." 

" Never borrowed a cent of me in his life," cried 
Tommy, looking scared, for he guessed what was com- 
ing now, and felt that on the whole he would have 
preferred witchcraft, for he admired Dan immensely. 

" Perhaps he took it," cried Ned, who owed Dan a 
grudge for the ducking, and, being a mortal boy, liked 
to pay it off. 



248 LITTLE MEN. 

" O Dan ! " cried Nat, clasping his hands, regardless 
of the bread and butter in them. 

" It is a hard thing to do, but I must have this settled, 
for I cannot have you watching each other like detec- 
tives, and the whole school disturbed in this way. Did 
you put that dollar in the barn this morning?" asked 
Mr. Bhaer. 

Dan looked him straight in the face, and answered 
steadily, "Yes, I did." 

A murmur went round the table, Tommy dropped his 
mug with a crash ; Daisy cried out, " I knew it wasn't 
Nat ; " Nan began to cry, and Mrs. Jo left the room, 
looking so disappointed, sorry, and ashamed that Dan 
could not bear it. He hid his face in his hands a mo- 
ment, then threw up his head, squared his shoulders as 
if settling some load upon them, and said, with the 
dogged look, and half-resolute, half-reckless tone he had 
used when he first came 

" I did it ; now you may do what you like to me, but 
I won't say another word about it." 

" Not even that you are sorry ? " asked Mr. Bhaer, 
troubled by the change in him. 

" I ain't sorry." 

" I '11 forgive him without asking," said Tommy, feel- 
ing that it was harder somehow to see brave Dan 
disgraced than timid Nat. 

" Don't want to be forgiven," returned Dan, gruffly. 

" Perhaps you will when you have thought about it 
quietly by yourself. I won't tell you now how sur- 
prised and disappointed I am, but by and by I will 
come up and talk to you in your room." 

" Won't make any difference," said Dan, trying to 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS. 249 

epeak defiantly, but failing as he looked at Mr. Bhaer's 
sorrowful face; and, taking his words for a dismis 
sal, Dan left the room, as if he found it impossible t</ 
stay. 

It would have done him good if he had stayed ; for 
the boys talked the matter over with such sincere 
regret, and pity, and wonder, it might have touched 
and won him to ask pardon. No one was glad to find 
that it was he, not even Nat ; for, spite of all his faults, 
and they were many, every one liked Dan now, because 
under his rough exterior lay some of the manly virtues 
which we most admire and love. Mrs. Jo had been the 
chief prop, as well as cultivator, of Dan ; and she took 
it sadly to heart that her last and most interesting boy 
had turned out so ill. The theft was bad, but the lying 
about it, and allowing another to suffer so much from 
an unjust suspicion, was worse; and most discouraging 
of all was the attempt to restore the money in an un- 
derhand way, for it showed not only a want of courage, 
but a power of deceit that boded ill for the future. 
Still more trying was his steady refusal to talk of the 
matter, to ask pardon, or express any remorse. Days 
passed ; and he went about his lessons and his w r ork, 
silent, grim, and unrepentant. As if taking warning 
by their treatment of Nat, he asked no sympathy of any 
one, rejected the advances of the boys, and spent his 
leisure hours roaming about the fields and woods, 
trying to find playmates in the birds and beasts, and 
succeeding better than most boys would have done, 
because he knew and loved them so well. 

" If this goes on much longer, I 'm afraid he will run 
away again, for he is too young to stand a life like this," 



250 LITTLE MEN. 

said Mr. Bhaer, quite dejected at the failure of all his 
efforts. 

" A little while ago I should have been quite sure 
that nothing would tempt him away, but now I am ready 
for any thing, he is so changed," answered poor Mrs. 
Jo, who mourned over her boy, and could not be coir- 
forted, because he shunned her more than any one else, 
and only looked at her with the half-fierce, half-implor- 
ing eyes of a wild animal caught in a trap, when she 
tried to talk to him alone. 

Nat followed him about like a shadow, and Dan did 
not repulse him as rudely as he did others, but said, in 
his blunt way, " You are all right ; don't worry about 
me. I can stand it better than you did." 

" But I don't like to have you all alone," Nat would 
say, sorrowfully. 

" I like it ; " and Dan would tramp away, stifling a 
sigh sometimes, for he was lonely. 

Passing through the birch grove one day, he came 
upon several of the boys, who w^ere amusing them- 
selves by climbing up the trees and swinging down 
again, as the slender elastic stems bent till their tops 
touched the ground. Dan paused a minute to watch 
the fun, without offering to join in it, and as he stood 
there Jack took his turn. He had unfortunately chosen 
too large a tree ; for when he swung off, it only bent a 
little way, and left him hanging at a dangerous height. 

" Go back ; you can't do it ! " called Ned from below. 

Jack tried, but the twigs slipped from his hands, and 
he could not get his legs round the trunk. He kicked, 
and squirmed, and clutched in vain, then gave it up, 
and hung breathless, saying, helplessly, 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS. 251 

" Catch me ! help me ! I must drop ! r 

" You '11 be killed if you do," cried Ned, frightened 
out of his wits. 

" Hold on ! " shouted Dan ; and up the tree he went, 
crashing his way along till he nearly reached Jack, 
whose face looked up at him, full of fear and hope. 

" You '11 both come down," said Ned, dancing with 
excitement on the slope underneath, while Nat held out 
his arms, in the wild hope of breaking the fall. 

" That 's what I want ; stand from under," answered 
Dan, coolly; and, as he spoke, his added weight bent 
the tree many feet nearer the earth. 

Jack dropped safely ; but the birch, lightened of half 
its load, flew up again so suddenly, that Dan, in the act 
of swinging round to drop feet foremost, lost his hold 
and fell heavily. 

" I 'm not hurt, all right in a minute," he said, sitting 
up, a little pale and dizzy, as the boys gathered round 
him, full of admiration and alarm. 

" You 're a trump, Dan, and I 'm ever so much 
obliged to you," cried Jack, gratefully. 

" It wasn't any thing," muttered Dan, rising slowly. 

" I say it was, and I '11 shake hands with you, though 

you are " Ned checked the unlucky word on his 

tongue, and held out his hand, feeling that it was a 
handsome thing on his part. 

"But I won't shake hands with a sneak;" and Dan 
turned his back with a look of scorn, that caused Ned 
to remember the brook, and retire with undignified 
haste. 

" Come home, old chap ; I '11 give you a lift ; " and 
Nat walked away with him, leaving the others to talk 



252 LITTLE MEN. 

over the feat together, to wonder when I* an would 
" come round," and to wish one and all that Tommy's 
" confounded money had. been in Jericho before it 
made such a fuss." 

When Mr. Bhaer came into school next m ornm & ne 
looked so happy, that the boys wondered what had 
happened to him, and really thought he h^ l st his 
mind when they saw him go straight to Dan, and, 
taking him by both hands, say all in one br^ a ^ n J as ne 
shook them heartily, 

" I know all about it, and I beg your pardon. It 
was like you to do it, and I love you for it, t QOU S Q ^ 8 
never right to tell lies, even for a friend." 

" What is it? " cried Nat, for Dan said n< 5t a word > 
only lifted up his head, as if a weight of soiri 6 sort nac * 
fallen off his back. 

" Dan did not take Tommy's money ; " and -^ r 
quite shouted it, he was so glad. 

" Who did ? " cried the boys in a chorus. 

Mr. Bhaer pointed to one empty seat, and ever y 
followed his finger, yet no one spoke for a mi nu ^ e ) they 
were so surprised. 

"Jack went home early this morning, but l ie * e this 
behind him ; " and in the silence Mr. Bhaef rea d the 
note which he had found tied to his door-ha 11 ^ 6 wnen 
he rose. 

" I took Tommy's dollar. I was peeking i n through 
a crack, and saw him put it there. I was afi* ai( * to tell 
before, though I wanted to. I didn't care so mu ch 
about Nat, but Dan is a trump, and I can't st and ^ anv 
longer. I never spent the money ; it 's UD der the 
carpet in my room, right behind the washst, and ' * m 



DAMON AND PYTHIAS. 253 

awful sorry. I am going home, and don't think I shall 
ever come back, so Dan may have my things. 

"JACK." 

It was not an elegant confession, being badly written, 
much blotted, and very short; but it was a precious 
paper to Dan ; and, when Mr. Bhaer paused, the boy 
went to him, saying, in rather a broken voice, but with 
clear eyes, and the frank, respectful manner they had 
tried to teach him 

" I '11 say I 'm sorry now, and ask you to forgive me, 



sir." 



" It was a kind lie, Dan, and I can't help forgiving it ; 
but you see it did no good," said Mr. Bhaer, with a 
hand on either shoulder, and a face full of relief and 
affection. 

" It kept the boys from plaguing Nat. That 's what 
I did it for. It made him right down miserable. I 
didn't care so much," explained Dan, as if glad to 
speak out after his hard silence. 

" How could you do it ? you are always so kind to 
me," faltered Nat, feeling a strong desire to hug his 
friend and cry. Two girlish performances, which 
would have scandalized Dan to the last degree. 

" It 's all right now, old fellow, so don't be a fool," he 
said, swallowing the lump in his throat, and laughing 
out as he had not done for weeks. " Does Mrs. Bhaer 
know?" he asked, eagerly. 

" Yes ; and she is so happy I don't know what she 
will do to you," began Mr. Bhaer, but got no farther, 
for here the boys came crowding about Dan in a tumult 
of pleasure and curiosity ; but before he had answered 
more than a dozen questions, a voice cried out 



254 LITTLE MEN. 

" Three cheers for Dan ! " and there was Mrs. Jo in 
the doorway waving her dish-towel, and looking as if 
she wanted to dance a jig for joy, as she used to do 
when a girl. 

" Now then," cried Mr. Bhaer, and led off a rousing 
hurrah, which startled Asia in the kitchen, and made 
old Mr. Roberts shake his head as he drove by, say- 
ing 

" Schools are not what they were when I was young! " 

Dan stood it pretty well for a minute, but the sight 
of Mrs. Jo's delight upset him, and he suddenly bolted 
across the hall into the parlor, whither she instantly 
followed, and neither were seen for half an hour. 

Mr. Bhaer found it very difficult to calm his excited 
flock ; and, seeing that lessons were an impossibility for 
a time, he caught their attention by telling them the 
fine old story of the friends whose fidelity to one 
another has made their names immortal. The lads 
listened and remembered, for just then their hearts 
were touched by the loyalty of a humbler pair of 
friends. The lie was wrong, but the love that prompted 
it and the courage that bore in silence the disgrace 
which belonged to another, made Dan a hero in their 
eyes. Honesty and honor had a new meaning now ; a 
good name was more precious than gold ; for once lost 
money could not buy it back ; and faith in one another 
made life smooth and happy as nothing else could do. 

Tommy proudly restored the name of the firm ; Nat 
was devoted to Dan ; and all the boys tried to atone to 
both for former suspicion and neglect. Mrs. Jo re- 
joiced over her flock, and Mr. Bhaer was never tired of 
telling the story of his young Damon and Pythias. 



CHAPTER XV. 
IN THE WILLOW. 



old tree saw and heard a good many little 



scenes and confidences that summer, because it 
became the favorite retreat of all the children, and the 
willow seemed to enjoy it, for a pleasant welcome 
always met them, and the quiet hours spent in its arms 
did them all good. It had a great deal of company 
one Saturday afternoon, and some little bird reported 
what went on there. 

First came Nan and Daisy with their small tubs and 
bits of soap, for now and then they were seized with a 
tidy fit, and washed up all their dolls' clothes in the 
brook. Asia would not have them " slopping round " 
in her kitchen, and the bath-room was forbidden since 
Nan forgot to turn oif the water till it overflowed and 
came gently dripping down through the ceiling. Daisy 
went systematically to work, washing first the white 
and then the colored things, rinsing them nicely, and 
hanging them to dry on a cord fastened from one 
barberry-bush to another, and pinning them up with a 
set of tiny clothes-pins Ned had turned for her. But 
Nan put all her little things to soak in the same tub, 
and then forgot them while she collected thistledown 



256 LITTLE MEN. 

to stuff a pillow for Semiramis, Queen of Babylon, as 
one doll was named. This took some time, and when 
Mrs. Giddy-gaddy came to take out her clothes, deep 
green stains appeared on every thing, for she had for- 
gotten the green silk lining of a certain cape, and its 
color had soaked nicely into the pink and blue gowns, 
the little chemises, and even the best ruffled petticoat. 

" Oh me ! what a mess ! " sighed Nan. 

" Lay them on the grass to bleach," said Daisy, with 
an air of experience. 

" So I will, and we can sit up in the nest and w^atch 
that they don't blow away." 

The Queen of Babylon's wardrobe was spread forth 
upon the bank, and, turning up their tubs to dry, the 
little washerwomen climbed into the nest, and fell to 
talking, as ladies are apt to do in the pauses of domestic 
labor. 

" I 'm going to have a feather-bed to go with my new 
pillow," said Mrs. Giddy-gaddy, as she transferred the 
thistledown from her pocket to her handkerchief, losing 
about half in the process. 

" I wouldn't ; Aunt Jo says feather-beds aren't healthy. 
I never let my children sleep on any thing but a mat- 
tress," returned Mrs. Shakespeare Smith, decidedly. 

" I don't care ; iny children are so strong they often 
sleep on the floor, and don't mind it " (which was quite 
true). "I can't afford nine mattresses, and I like to 
make beds myself." 

" Won't Tommy charge for the feathers ? " 

" May be he will, but I shan't pay him, and he won't 
care," returned Mrs. G., taking a base advantage of the 
well-known good-nature of T. Bangs. 



IN THE WILLOW. 257 

" I think the pink will fade out of that dress sooner 
than the green mark will," observed Mrs. S., looking 
down from her perch, and changing the subject, for she 
and her gossip differed on many points, and Mrs. Smith 
was a discreet lady. 

"Never mind; I'm tired of dolls, and I guess I 
shall put them all away and attend to my farm; I 
like it rather better than playing house," said Mrs. 
G., unconsciously expressing the desire of many older 
ladies, who cannot dispose of their families so easily 
however. 

" But you mustn't leave them ; they will die without 
their mother," cried tender Mrs. Smith. 

" Let 'em die then ; I 'm tired of fussing over babies, 
and I 'm going to play with the boys ; they need me to 
see to 'em," returned the strong-minded lady. 

Daisy knew nothing about woman's rights ; she qui- 
etly took all she wanted, and no one denied her claim, 
because she did not undertake what she could not 
carry out, but unconsciously used the all-powerful right 
of her own influence to win from others any privilege 
for which she had proved her fitness. Nan attempted 
all sorts of things, undaunted by direful failures, and 
clamored fiercely to be allowed to do every thing that 
the boys did. They laughed at her, hustled her out 
of the way, and protested against her meddling with 
their affairs. But she would not be quenched and she 
would be heard, for her will was strong, and she had 
the spirit of a rampant reformer. Mrs. Bhaer sym- 
pathized with her, but tried to curb her frantic desire 
for entire liberty, showing her that she must wait a 
little, learn self-control, and be ready to use her freedom 

17 



258 LITTLE MEN, 

before she asked for it. Nan had meek moments when 
she agreed to this, and the influences at work upon her 
were gradually taking effect. She no longer declared 
that she would be engine-driver or a blacksmith, but 
turned her mind to farming, and found in it a vent for 
the energy bottled up in her active little body. It did 
not quite satisfy her, however ; for her sage and sweet 
marjoram were dumb things, and could not thank her for 
her care. She wanted something human to love, work 
for, and protect, and was never happier than when the 
little boys brought their cut fingers, bumped heads, or 
bruised joints for her to " mend up." Seeing this, Mrs. 
Jo proposed that she should learn how to do it nicely, 
and Nursey had an apt pupil in bandaging, plastering, 
and fomenting. The boys began to call her "Dr. 
Giddy-gaddy," and she liked it so well that Mrs. Jo 
one day said to the Professor 

"Fritz, I see what we can do for that child. She 
wants something to live for even now, and will be one 

^j * 

of the sharp, strong, discontented women if she does 
not have it. Don't let us snub her restless little nature, 
but do our best to give her the work she likes, and by 
and by persuade her father to let her study medicine. 
She will make a capital doctor, for she has courage, 
strong nerves, a tender heart, and an intense love and 
pity for the weak and suffering." 

Mr. Bhaer smiled at first, but agreed to try, and gave 
Nan an herb-garden, teaching her the various healing 
properties of the plants she tended, and letting her try 
their virtues on the children in the little illnesses they 
had from time to time. She learned fast, remembered 
well, and showed a sense and interest most encouraging 



IN THE WILLOW. 259 

to her Professor, who did not shut his door in her face 
because she was a little woman. 

She was thinking of this, as she sat in the willow that 
day, and when Daisy said in her gentle way 

" I love to keep house, and mean to have a nice one 
for Demi when we grow up and live together." 

Nan replied with decision 

" Well, I haven't got any brother, and I don't want 
any house to fuss over. I shall have an office, with lots 
of bottles and drawers and pestle things in it, and I 
shall drive round in a horse and chaise and cure sick 
people. That will be such fun." 

" Ugh ! how can you bear the bad-smelling stuff and 
the nasty little powders and castor-oil and senna and 
hive syrup ? " cried Daisy, with a shudder. 

" I shan't have to take any, so I don't care. Besides, 
they make people well, and I like to cure folks. Didn't 
my sage-tea make Mother Bhaer's headache go away, 
and my hops stop Ned's toothache in five hours ? So 
now! ' 

"Shall you put leeches on people, and cut off legs 
and pull out teeth ? ?: asked Daisy, quaking at the 
thought. 

" Yes, I shall do every thing ; I don't care if the peo- 
ple are all smashed up, I shall mend them. My grandpa 
was a doctor, and I saw him sew a great cut in a man's 
cheek, and I held the sponge, and wasn't frightened a 
bit, and Grandpa said I was a brave girl." 

" How could you ? I 'm sorry for sick people, and 
I like to nurse them, but it makes my legs shake so I 
have to run away. I'm not a brave girl," sighed 
Daisy. 



260 LITTLE MEN. 

"Well, you can be my nurse, and cuddle my patients 
V^hen I have given them the physic and cut off their 
legs," said Nan, whose practice was evidently to be of 
the heroic kind. 

" Ship ahoy ! Where are you, Nan ? " called a voicd 
from below. 

" Here we are." 

" Ay, ay ! " said the voice, and Emil appeared holding 
one hand in the other, with his face puckered up as if 
in pain. 

" Oh, what 's the matter ? " cried Daisy, anxiously. 

" A confounded splinter in my thumb. Can't get it 
out. Take a pick at it, will you, Nanny ? " 

" It 's in very deep, and I haven't any needle," said 
Nan, examining a tarry thumb with interest. 

" Take a pin," said Emil, in a hurry. 

" No, it 's too big and hasn't got a sharp point." 

Here Daisy, who had dived into her pocket, present- 
ed a neat little housewife with four needles in it. 

" You are the Posy who always has what we want," 
said Emil ; and Nan resolved to have a needle-book in 
her own pocket henceforth, for just such cases as this 
were always occurring in her practice. 

Daisy covered her eyes, but Nan probed and picked 
with a steady hand, while Emil gave directions not 
down in any medical work or record. 

" Starboard now ! Steady, boys, steady ! Try another 
tack. Heave ho ! there she is ! " 

" Suck it," ordered the Doctor, surveying the splinter 
with an experienced eye. 

" Too dirty," responded the patient, shaking his bleed- 
ing hand. 



IN THE WILLOW. 261 

"Wait ; I '11 tie it up if you have got a handkerchief!" 

" Haven't ; take one of those rags down there." 

" Gracious ! no, indeed ; they are doll's clothes," cried 
Daisy, indignantly. 

" Take one of mine ; I 'd like to have you," said 
Nan ; and swinging himself down, Emil caught up the 
first " rag " he saw. It happened to be the frilled skirt ; 
but Nan tore it up without a murmur ; and when the 
royal petticoat was turned into a neat little bandage, 
she dismissed her patient with the command 

" Keep it wet, and let it alone ; then it will heal right 
up, and not be sore." 

"What do you charge?" asked the Commodore, 
laughing. 

" Nothing ; I keep a 'spensary ; that is a place where 
$oor people are doctored free gratis for nothing," ex- 
plained Nan, with an air. 

" Thank you, Doctor Giddy-gaddy. I '11 always *all 
you in when I come to grief ; '' and Emil departed, but 
looked back to say for one good turn deserved an- 
other " Your duds are blowing away, Doctor." 

Forgiving the disrespectful word, " duds, " the ladies 
hastily descended, and, gathering up their wash, retired 
to the house to fire up the little stove, and go to 
ironing. 

A passing breath of air shook the old willow, as if it 
laughed softly at the childish chatter which went on in 
the nest, and it had hardly composed itself when another 
pair of birds alighted for a confidential twitter. 

" Now, I '11 tell you the secret," began Tommy, who 
was " sw r ellin' wisibly" with the importance of hia 
news. 



262 LITTLE MEN. 

" Tell away," answered Nat, wishing he had brought 
his fiddle, it was so shady and quiet here. 

" Well, we fellows were talking over the late interest- 
ing case of circumstantial evidence," said Tommy, quot- 
ing at random from a speech Franz had made at the 
club, " and I proposed giving Dan something to make 
up for our suspecting him, to show our respect, and so 
on, you know something handsome and useful, that 
he could keep always, and be proud of. What do you 
think we chose ? " 

" A butterfly-net ; he wants one ever so much," said 
Nat, looking a little disappointed, for he meant to get it 
himself. 

" No, sir ; it 's to be a microscope, a real swell one, 
ihat we see what -do -you -call -ems in water with, 
and stars, and ant-eggs, and all sorts of games, you 
know. Won't it be a jolly good present ?" said Tommy, 
rather confusing microscopes and telescopes in his 
remarks. 

" Tip-top ! I 'm so glad ! Won't it cost a heap, 
though ? " cried Nat, feeling that his friend was begin- 
ning to be appreciated. 

" Of course it will ; but we are all going to give 
something. I headed the paper with my five dollars ; 
for if it is done at all, it must be done handsome." 

" What ! all of it ? I never did see such a generous 
chap as you are ; " and Nat beamed upon him with sin- 
cere admiration. 

" Well, you see, I Ve been so bothered with my prop- 
erty, that I 'm tired of it, and don't mean to save up 
any more, but give it away as I go along, and then 
nobody will envy me, or want to steal it, and I shan't be 



IN THE WILLOW. 263 

suspecting folks, and worrying about my old cash," 
replied Tommy, on whom the cares and anxieties of a 
millionnaire weighed heavily. 

" Will Mr. Bhaer let you do it ? " 

" He thought it was a first-rate plan, and said that 
some of the best men he knew preferred to do good 
with their money, instead of laying it up to be squab- 
bled over when they died." 

"Your father is rich ; does he do that way?" 

" I 'm not sure ; he gives me all I want ; I know that 
much. I 'm going to talk to him about it when I go 
home. Anyhow, I shall set him a good example ; " and 
Tommy was so serious, that Nat did not dare to laugh, 
but said, respectfully, 

" You will be able to do ever so much with your 
money, w^on't you ? r 

" So Mr. Bhaer said, and he promised to advise me 
about useful ways of spending it. I 'm going to begin 
with Dan ; and next time I get a dollar or so, I shall do 
something for Dick, he's such a good little chap, and 
only has a cent a week for pocket-money. He can't 
earn much, you know ; so I 'm going to kind of see to 
him ; " and good-hearted Tommy quite longed to begin. 

" I think that 's a beautiful plan, and I 'm not going 
to try to buy a fiddle any more ; I 'm going to get Dan 
his net all myself, and if there is any money left, I '11 do 
something to please poor Billy. He 's fond of me, and 
though he isn't poor, he 'd like some little thing from 
me, because I can make out what he wants better than 
the rest of you." And Nat fell to wondering how 
much happiness could be got out of his precious three 
dollars. 



264 LITTLE MEN. 

" So I would. Now come and ask Mr. Bhaer if you 
can't go in town with me on Monday afternoon, so you 
can get the net, while I get the microscope. Franz and 
Emil are going to, and we'll have a jolly time larking 
xrnnd among the shops." 

The lads walked away arm-in-arm, discussing the 
new plans with droll importance, yet beginning already 
to feel the sweet satisfaction which comes to those who 
try, no matter how humbly, to be earthly providences 
to the poor and helpless, and gild their mite with the 
gold of charity before it is laid up where thieves cannot 
break through and steal. 

" Come up and rest while we sort the leaves ; it 's so 
cool and pleasant here," said Demi, as he and Dan came 
sauntering home from a long walk in the woods. 

" All right ! " answered Dan, who was a boy of few 
words, and up they went. 

u What makes the birch leaves shake so much more 
than the others?" asked inquiring Demi, who was 
always sure of an answer from Dan. 

" They are hung differently. Don't you see the stem 
where it joins the leaf is sort of pinched one way, and 
where it joins the twig, it is pinched another. That 
makes it waggle with the least bit of wind, but the elm 
leaves hang straight, and keep stiller." 

" How curious ! will this do so ? " and Demi held up 
a sprig of acacia, which he had broken from a little 
tree on the lawn, because it was so pretty. 

" No ; that belongs to the sort that shuts up when 
you touch it. Draw your finger down the middle of 
the stem, and see if the leaves don't curl up," said Dan, 
who was examining a bit of mica. 



IN TEE WILLOW. 265 

Demi tried it, and presently the little leaves did fold 
together, till the spray showed a single instead of a 
double line of leaves. 

"I like that; tell me about the others. What do 
these do?" asked Demi, taking up a new branch. 

"Feed silk-worms; they live on mulberry leaves, til] 
they begin to spin themselves up. I was in a silk-fac- 
tory once, and there were rooms full of shelves all 
covered with leaves, and worms eating them so fast 
that it made a rustle. Sometimes they eat so much 
they die. Tell that to Stuffy," and Dan laughed, as he 
took up another bit of rock with a lichen on it. 

" I know one thing about this mullein leaf: the fairies 
use them for blankets," said Demi, who had not quite 
given up his faith in the existence of the little folk in 
green. 

" If I had a microscope, I 'd show you something 
prettier than fairies," said Dan, wondering if he should 
ever own that coveted treasure. " I knew an old woman 
who used mullein leaves for a night-cap because she had 
face-ache. She sewed them together, and wore it all 
the time." 

" How funny ! was she your grandmother ? " 

" Never had any. She was a queer old woman, and 
lived alone in a little tumble-down house with nineteen 
cats. Folks called her a witch, but she wasn't, though 
she looked like an old rag-bag. She was real kind to 
me when I lived in that place, and used to let me get 
warm at her fire when the folks at the poorhouse were 
hard on me." 

" Did you live in a poorhouse ? " 

" A little while. Never mind that I didn't mean to 



266 LITTLE MEN. 

speak of it ; " and Dan stopped short in his unusual fit 
of communicativeness. 

" Tell about the cats, please," said Demi, feeling that 
he had asked an unpleasant question, and sorry for it. 

" Nothing to tell ; only she had a lot of 'em, and kept 
'em in a barrel nights ; and I used to go and tip over 
the barrel sometimes, and let 'em out all over the house, 
and then she 'd scold, and chase 'em and put 'em in 
again, spitting and yowling like fury." 

" Was she good to them ? " asked Demi, with a hearty 
child's laugh, pleasant to hear. 

" Guess she was. Poor old soul ! sho took in all the 
lost and sick cats in the town ; and when anybody 
wanted one they went to Marm Webber, and she let 
'em pick any kind and color they wanted, and only 
asked ninepence, she was so glad to have her pussies 
get a good home." 

" I should like to see Marm Webber. Could I, if I 
went to that place?" 

" She 's dead. All my folks are," said Dan, briefly. 

" I 'm sorry ; " and Demi sat silent a minute, wonder- 
ing what subject would bo safe to try next. He felt 
delicate about speaking of the departed lady, but was 
very curious about the cats, and could not resist asking 
softly 

" Did she cure the sick ones ? " 

" Sometimes. One had a broken leg, and she tied it 
up to a stick, and it got well ; and another had fits, and 
she doctored it with yarbs till it was cured. But some 
of 'em died, and she buried 'em ; and when they couldn't 
get well, she killed 'em easy." 

" How ? " asked Demi, feeling that there was a 



IN THE WILLOW. 267 

culiar charm about this old woman, and some sort of 
joke about the cats, because Dan was smiling to himself. 

" A kind lady, who was fond of cats, told her how, 
and gave her some stuff, and sent all her own pussies 
to be killed that way. Marm used to put a sponge, wet 
with ether, in the bottom of an old boot, then poke 
ipuss in head downwards. The ether put her to sleep 
in a jiffy, and she was drowned in warm water before 
she woke up." 

"I hope the cats didn't feel it. I shall tell Daisy 
about that. You have known a great many interesting 
things, haven't you ? " asked Demi, and fell to meditat- 
ing on the vast experience of a boy who had run away 
more than once, and taken care of himself in a big city. 

" Wish I hadn't sometimes." 

" Why ? Don't remembering them feel good ? " 

No." 

" It 's very singular how hard it is to manage your 
mind," said Demi, clasping his hands round his knees, 
and looking up at the sky as if for information upon his 
favorite topic. 

" Devilish hard no, I don't mean that;" and Dan 
bit his lips, for the forbidden word slipped out in spite 
of him, and he wanted to be more careful with Demi 
than with any of the other boys. 

"I'll play I didn't hear it," said Demi; "and you 
won't do it again, I 'm sure." 

"Not if I can help it. That's one of the things I 
don't want to remember. I keep pegging away, but it 
don't seem to do much good ; " and Dan looked dis- 
couraged. 

"Yes, it does. You don't say half so many bad 



o,55 LITTLE MEX. 

words as von used to ; and Aunt Jo is pleased, because 
she said it was a hard habit to break up." 

Did she ? '" and Dan cheered up a bit. 

You must put swearing away in your fault-drawer, 
and lock it up ; that *s the way I do with my badness." 

-What do you mean?" asked Dan. looking as if he 
found Demi almost as amusing as a new sort of cock- 
chafer or beetle. 

AYell, it's one of my private plays, and 1*11 tell you, 
but I think you'll laugh at it," began Demi, glad to 
hold forth on this congenial subject. I play that my 
mind is a round room, and my soul is a little sort of 
creature with wings that lives in it. The walls are rail 
of shelves and drawers, and in them I keep my thoughts, 
and mv goodness and badness, and all sorts of things. 

vT* 

The goods I keep where I can see them, and the bad 
I lock up tight, but they get out. and I have to keep 
putting them in and squeezing them down, they are so 
strong. The thoughts I play with when I am alone or 
in bed. and I make up and do what I like with them. 
Every Sunday I put my room in order, and talk with 
the little spirit that lives there, and tell him what to do. 
He is verv bad sometimes, and won't mind me, and I 



have to scold him, and take hi'm to Grandpa. He al- 
wavs makes him behave, and be sorry for his faults, 
because Grandpa likes this play, and gives me nice 
things to put in the drawers, and tells me how to shut 

up the naughties. Hadn't vou better trv that way? 

_ 

it 's a verv a-ood one : " and Demi looked so earnest and 

^^ 

rail of faith, that Dan did not laugh at his quaint fancy, 
but said, soberly. 

" I don't think there is a lock strong enough to keep 



THE WILLOW. 269 

my badness shut up. Any way my room is in such a 
clutter I don't know how to clear it up." 

" You keep your drawers in the cabinet all spandy 
nice ; why can't you do the other.-. .' " 

" I ain't used to it. Will you show rnc how?" and 
Dan looked as if inclined to try Demi's childish way of 
keeping a soul in order. 

" I 'd love to. but I don't know how, except to talk 
as Grandpa does. I can't do it good like him, but I '11 
try." 

" Don't tell any one ; only now and then we '11 come 
here and talk things over, and I '11 pay you for it by 
telling all I know about my ^ort of thine/ -. Will that 
do V " and Dan held out his big, rough hand. 

Demi gave his smooth, little hand readily, and the 
league was made ; for in the happy, peaceful world 
where the younger boy lived, lions and lambs played 
together, and little children innocently taught their 
elders. 

" Hush ! " said Dan, pointing toward the house, as 
Demi was about to indulge in another discourse on the 
best way of getting badness down, and keeping it 
down ; and peeping from their perch, they saw Mrs. 
Jo strolling slowly along, reading as she went, while 
Teddy trotted behind her, dragging a little cart upside 
down. 

" Wait till they see us," whispered Demi, and both 
sat still as the pair came nearer, Mrs. Jo so absorbed in 
her book that she would have walked into the brook if 
Teddy had not stopped her by saying 

"Mannar, I wanter fis." 

Mrs. Jo put down the charming book which she had 



270 LITTLE MEN. 

been trying to read for a week, and looked about her 
for a fishing-pole, being used to making toys out of noth- 
ing. Before she had broken one from the hedge, a 

^3 O 7 

slender willow bough fell at her feet ; and, looking up, 
she saw the boys laughing in the nest. 

"Up! up!" cried Teddy, stretching his arms and 
flapping his skirts as if about to fly. 

" I '11 come down and you come up. I must go to 
Daisy now ; " and Demi departed to rehearse the tale 
of the nineteen cats, with the exciting boot-and-barrel 
episodes. 

Teddy was speedily whisked up ; and then Dan said, 
laughing, " Come, too ; there 's plenty of room. I '11 
lend you a hand." 

Mrs. Jo glanced over her shoulder, but no one was 
in sight; and, rather liking the joke of the thing, she 
laughed back, saying, " Well, if you won't mention it, 
I think I will ; " and with two nimble steps was in the 
willow. 

"I haven't climbed a tree since I was married. I 
used to be very fond of it when I was a girl," she said, 
looking well-pleased with her shady perch. 

" Now, you read if you want to, and I '11 take care 
of Teddy," proposed Dan, beginning to make a fishing- 
rod for impatient Baby. 

" I don't think I care about it now. What were you 
and Demi at up here ? " asked Mrs. Jo, thinking, from 
the sober look in Dan's face, that he had something on 
his mind. 

" Oh ! we were talking. I 'd been telling him about 
leaves and things, and he was telling me some of his 
queer plays. Now, then, Major, fish away;" and Dan 



IN THE WILLOW. 271 

finished off his work by putting a big blue fly on tha 
bent pin which hung at the end of the cord he had 
tied to the willow-rod. 

Teddy leaned down from the tree, and was soon 
wrapt up in watching for the fish which he felt sure 
would come. Dan held him by his little petticoats, 
lest he should take a "header" into the brook, and 
Mrs. Jo soon won him to talk by doing so herself. 

"I am so glad you told Demi about 'leaves and 
things ;' it is just what he needs ; and I wish you would 
teach him, and take him to walk with you. " 

" I 'd like to, he is so bright ; but " 

"But what?" 

" I didn't think you 'd trust me." 

"Why not?" 

" Well, Demi is so kind of precious, and so good, 
and I 'm such a bad lot, I thought you 'd keep him 
away from me." 

" But you are not a ' bad lot,' as you say ; and I do 
trust you, Dan, entirely, because you honestly try to 
improve, and do better and better every week." 

" Really ? " and Dan looked up at her with the cloud 
of despondency lifting from his face. 

"Yes; don't you feel it?" 

" I hoped so, but I didn't know." 

"I have been waiting and watching quietly, for I 
thought I 'd give you a good trial first ; and if you 
stood it, I would give you the best reward I had. You 
have stood it well ; and now I 'm going to trust not 
only Demi, but my own boy, to you, because you can 
teach them some things better than any of us." 

" Can I ? " and Dan looked amazed at the idea. 



272 LITTLE MEN. 

"Demi has lived among older people so much thai 
he needs just what you have knowledge of common 
things, strength, and courage. He thinks you are the 
bravest boy he ever saw, and admires your strong way 
of doing things. Then you know a great deal about 
natural objects, and can tell him more wonderful tales 
of birds, and bees, and leaves, and animals, than his 
story-books give him ; and, being true, these stories will 
teach and do him good. Don't you see now how much 
you can help him, and why I like to have him with 
you ? " 

"But I swear sometimes, and might tell him some- 
thing wrong. I wouldn't mean to, but it might slip 
out, just as 'devil' did a few minutes ago," said Dan, 
anxious to do his duty, and let her know his short- 
comings. 

" I know you try not to say or do any think to harm 
the little fellow, and here is where I think Demi will 
help you, because he is so innocent and wise in his 
small way, and has what I am trying to give you, dear 
good principles. It is never too early to try and 
plant them in a child, and never too late to cultivate 
them in the most neglected person. You are only boys 
yet ; you can teach one another. Demi will uncon- 
sciously strengthen your moral sense, you will strengthen 
his common sense, and I shall feel as if I had helped 
}'ou both." 

Words could not express how pleased and touched 
Dan was by this confidence and praise. No one had 
ever trusted him before, no one had cared to find out 
and foster the good in him, and no one had suspected 
how much there was hidden away in the breast of the 



IN THE WILLOW. 273 

neglected boy, going fast to ruin, yet quick to feel and 
value sympathy and help. No honor that he might 
earn hereafter would ever be half so precious as the 
right to teach his few virtues and his small store of 
learning to the child whom he most respected ; and no 
more powerful restraint could have been imposed upon 
him than the innocent companion confided to his care. 
He found courage now to tell Mrs. Jo of the plan al- 
ready made with Demi, and she was glad that the first 
step had been so naturally taken. Every thing seemed 
working well for Dan, and she rejoiced over him, be- 
cause it had seemed a hard task, yet, working on with 
a firm belief in the possibility of reformation in far 
older and worse subjects than he, there had come this 
quick and hopeful change to encourage her. He felt 
that he had friends now and a place in the world, some- 
thing to live and work for, and, though he said little, all 
that was best and bravest in a character made old by a 
hard experience responded to the love and faith be- 
stowed on him, and Dan's salvation was assured. 

Their quiet talk was interrupted by a shout of delight 
from Teddy, who, to the surprise of every one, did ac- 
tually catch a trout where no trout had been seen for 
years. He was so enchanted with his splendid success 
that he insisted on showing his prize to the family be- 
fore Asia cooked it for supper ; so the three descended 
and went happily away together, all satisfied with the 
work of that half hour. 

Ned was the next visitor to the tree, but he only 
made a short stay, sitting there at his ease while Dick 
and Dolly caught a pailful of grasshoppers and crickets 
for him. He wanted to play a joke on Tommy, and 

18 



274 LITTLE MEN. 

intended to tuck up a few dozen of the lively creatures 
in his bed, so that when Bangs got in he would speedily 
tumble out again, and pass a portion of the night in 
chasing " hopper-grasses " round the room. The hunt 
was soon over, and having paid the hunters with a few 
peppermints apiece Ned retired to make Tommy's bed. 
For an hour the old willow sighed and sung to itself, 
talked with the brook, and watched the lengthening 

*3 O 

shadows as the sun went down. The first rosy color 
was touching its graceful branches when a boy came 
stealing up the avenue, across the lawn, and, spying 
Billy by the brook-side, went to him, saying, in a mys- 
terious tone, 

" Go and tell Mr. Bhaer I want to see him down here, 
please. Don't let any one hear." 

Billy nodded and ran off, while the boy swung him- 
self up into the tree, and sat there looking anxious, 
yet evidently feeling the charm of the place and 
hour. In five minutes Mr. Bhaer appeared, and, 
stepping up on the fence, leaned into the nest, saying, 
kindly, 

" I am glad to see you, Jack ; but why not come in 
and meet us all at once ? " 

" I wanted to see you first, please, sir. Uncle made 
me come back. I know I don't deserve any thing, but 
I hope the fellows won't be hard upon me." 

Poor Jack did not get on very well, but it was evident 
that he was sorry and ashamed, and wanted to be re- 
ceived as easily as possible ; for his Uncle had thrashod 
him well and scolded him soundly for following the exam- 
ple he himself set. Jack had begged not to be sent back, 
but the school was cheap, and Mr. Ford insisted, so the 



IN THE WILLOW. 275 

boy returned as quietly as possible, and took refuge 
behind Mr. Bhaer. 

" I hope not, but I can't answer for them, though I 
will see that they are not unjust. I think, as Dan and 
Nat have suffered so much, being innocent, you should 
suffer something, being guilty. Don't you ? " asked Mr. 
Bhaer, pitying Jack, yet feeling that he deserved punish- 
ment for a fault which had so little excuse. 

" I suppose so, but I sent Tommy's money back, and 
I said I was sorry, isn't that enough ? " said Jack, rather 
sullenly ; for the boy who could do so mean a thing was 
not brave enough to bear the consequences well. 

" No ; I think you should ask pardon of all three 
boys, openly and honestly. You cannot expect them 
to respect and trust you for a time, but you can live 
down this disgrace if you try, and I will help you. 
Stealing and lying are detestable sins, and I hope this 
will be a lesson to you. I am glad you are ashamed, 
it is a good sign ; bear it patiently, and do your best to 
earn a better reputation." 

" I '11 have an auction, and sell off all my goods dirt 
cheap," said Jack, showing his repentance in the most 
characteristic way. 

" I think it would be better to give them away, and 
begin on a new foundation. Take ' Honesty is the best 
policy' foi your motto, and live up to it in act, and 
word, and thought, and though you don't make a cent 

O O / 

of money this summer, you will be a rich boy in the 
autumn," said Mr. Bhaer, earnestly. 

It was hard, but Jack consented, for he really felt 
that cheating didn't pay, and wanted to win back the 
friendship of the boys. His heart clung to his posses- 



276 LITTLE MEN. 

sions, and he groaned inwardly at the thought of actu- 
ally giving away certain precious things. Asking pardon 
publicly was easy compared to this ; but then he began 
to discover that certain other things, invisible, but 
most valuable, were better property than knives, fish- 
hooks, or even money itself. So he decided to buy up 
a little integrity, even at a high price, and secure the 
respect of his playmates, though it was not a salable 
article. 

" Well, I '11 do it," he said, with a sudden air of reso- 
lution, which pleased Mr. Bhaer. 

" Good ! and I '11 stand by you. Now come and 
begin at once." 

And Father Bhaer led the bankrupt boy back into 
the little world, which received him coldly at first, but 
slowly warmed to him, when he showed that he had 
profited by the lesson, and was sincerely anxious to go 
into a better business with a new stock-in-trade. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

TAMING THE COLT. 

"TT7HAT in the world is that boy doing?" said 
V V Mrs. Jo to herself, as she watched Dan run- 
ning round the half-mile triangle as if for a wager. He 
was all alone, and seemed possessed by some strange 
desire to run himself into a fever, or break his neck ; 
for, after several rounds, he tried leaping walls, and 
turning somersaults up the avenue, and finally dropped 
down on the grass before the door as if exhausted. 

" Are you training for a race, Dan ? " asked Mrs. Jo, 
from the window where she sat. 

He looked up quickly, and stopped panting to answer, 
with a laugh, 

" No ; I 'm only working off my steam." 

" Can't you find a cooler way of doing it ? You will 
be ill if you tear about so in such warm weather," said 
Mrs. Jo, laughing also, as she threw him out a great 
palm-leaf fan. 

" Can't help it. I must run somewhere," answered 
Dan, with such an odd expression in his restless eyes, 
that Mrs. Jo was troubled, and asked, quickly, 

"Is Plumfield getting too narrow for you?" 

" I wouldn't mind if it was a little bigger. I like it 



278 LITTLE MEN. 

though ; only the fact is the devil gets into me some < 
times, and then I do want to bolt." 

The words seemed to come against his will, for he 
looked sorry the minute they were spoken, and seemed 
to think he deserved a reproof for his ingratitude. But 
Mrs. Jo understood the feeling, and though sorry to see 
it she could not blame the boy for confessing it. She 
looked at him anxiously, seeing how tall and strong he 
had grown, how full of energy his face was, with its 
eager eyes and resolute mouth ; and remembering the 
utter freedom he had known for years before, she felt 
how even the gentle restraint of this home would weigh 
upon him at times when the old lawless spirit stirred in 
him. " Yes," she said to herself, " my wild hawk needs 
a larger cage ; and yet, if I let him go, I am afraid he 
will be lost. I must try and find some lure strong 
enough to keep him safe." 

" I know all about it," she added, aloud. " It is not 
' the devil,' as you call it, but the very natural desire 
of all young people for liberty. I used to feel just so, 
and once, I really did think for a minute that I would 
bolt." 

" Why didn't you ? " said Dan, coming to lean on the 
low window-ledge, with an evident desire to continue 
the subject. 

" I knew it was foolish, and love for my mother kept 
me at home." 

" I haven't got any mother," began Dan. 

" I thought you had noiv" said Mrs. Jo, gently strok- 
ing the rouo'h hair off his hot forehead. 

O O 

" You are no end good to me, and I can't ever thank 
you enough, but it isn't just the same, is it?" and Dan 



TAMING THE COLT. 279 

looked up at her with a wistful, hungry look that went 
to her heart. 

" No, dear, it is not the same, and never can be. I 
\hink an own mother would have been a great deal to 
you. But as that cannot be, you must try to let me 
fill her place. I fear I have not done all I ought, or 
you would not want to leave me," she added, sorrow- 
fully. 

" Yes, you have ! " cried Dan, eagerly. " I don't 
want to go, and I won't go, if I can help it ; but every 
now and then I feel as if I must burst out somehow. 
I want to run straight ahead somewhere, to smash 
something, or pitch into somebody. Don't know why, 
but I do, and that 's all about it." 

Dan laughed as he spoke, but he meant what he said, 
for he knit his black brows, and brought down his fist 
on the ledge with such force, that Mrs. Jo's thimble flew 
off into the grass. He brought it back, and as she took 
it she held the big, brown hand a minute, saying, with a 
look that showed the words cost her something 

" "W ell, Dan, run if you must, but don't run far ; and 
come back to me soon, for I want you very much." 

He was rather taken aback by this unexpected per- 
mission to play truant, and somehow it seemed to lessen 
his desire to go. He did not understand why, but 
Mrs. Jo did, and, knowing the natural perversity of the 
human mind, counted on it to help her now. She felt 
instinctively that the more the boy was restrained the 
more he would fret against it ; but leave him free, 
and the mere sense of liberty would content him, joined 
to the knowledge that his presence was dear to those 
whom he loved best. It was a little experiment, but it 



280 LITTLE MEN. 

succeeded, for Dan stood silent a moment, uncon* 
sciously picking the fan to pieces and turning the 
matter over in his mind. He felt that she appealed to 
his heart and his honor, and owned that he understood 
it by saying presently, with a mixture of regret and 
resolution in his face, 

" I won't go yet awhile, and I '11 give you warning 
before I bolt. That 's fair, isn't it ? " 

" Yes, we will let it stand so. Now, I want to see if 
I can't find some way for you to work off* your steam 
better than running about the place like a mad dog, 
spoiling my fans, or fighting with the boys. What can 
we invent ? " and while Dan tried to repair the mischief 
he had done, Mrs. Jo racked her brain for some new 
device to keep her truant safe until he had learned to 
love his lessons better. 

" How would you like to be my express-man ? " she 
said, as a sudden thought popped into her head. 

" Go into town, and do the errands ? " asked Dan, 
looking interested at once. 

O 

" Yes ; Franz is tired of it, Silas cannot be spared 
just now, and Mr. Bhaer has no time. Old Andy is a 
safe horse, you are a good driver, and know your way 
about the city as well as a postman. Suppose you try 
it, and see if it won't do most as well to drive away two 
or three times a week as to run away once a month." 

" I 'd like it ever so much, only I must go alone and 
do it all myself. I don't want any of the other fellows 
bothering round," said Dan, taking to the new idea so 
kindly that he began to put on business airs already. 

" If Mr. Bhaer does not object you shall have it all 
your own way. I suppose Emil will growl, but he 



TAMING THE COLT. 281 

cannot be trusted with horses, and you can. By the 
way, to-morrow is market-day, and I must make out my 
list. You had better see that the wagon is in order, 
and tell Silas to have the fruit and vegetables ready for 
mother. You will have to be up early and get back in 
time for school, can you do that ? " 

" I 'in always an early bird, so I don't mind," and 
Dan slung on his jacket with despatch. 

"The early bird got the worm this time, I'm sure," 
said Mrs. Jo, merrily. 

" And a jolly good worm it is," answered Dan, as he 
went laughing away to put a new lash to the whip, wash 
the wagon, and order Silas about with all the importance 
of a young express-man. 

" Before he is tired of this I will find something else 
and have it ready when the next restless fit comes on," 
said Mrs. Jo to herself, as she wrote her list with a deep 
sense of gratitude that all her boys were not Dans. 

Mr. Bhaer did not entirely approve of the new plan, 
but agreed to give it a trial, which put Dan on his 
mettle, and caused him to give up certain wild plans of 
his own, in which the new lash and the long hill were to 
have borne a part. He was up and away very early the 
next morning, heroically resisting the temptation to race 
with the milkmen going into town. Once there, he 
did his errands carefully, and came jogging home again 
in time for school, to Mr. Bhaer's surprise and Mrs. Jo's 
great satisfaction. The Commodore did growl at Dan's 
promotion, but was pacified by a superior padlock to 
his new boat-house, and the thought that seamen were 
meant for higher honors than driving market-wagons 
and doing family errands. So Dan filled his new office 



282 LITTLE MEN. 

well and contentedly for weeks, and said no more aboat 
bolting. But one day Mr. Bhaer found him pummelling 
Jack, who was roaring for mercy under his knee. 

" Why, Dan, I thought you had given up fighting,' 7 
he said, as he went to the rescue. 

" We ain't fighting, we are only wrestling," answered 
Dan, leaving off reluctantly. 

" It looks very much like it, and feels like it, hey, 
Jack?" said Mr. Bliaer, as the, defeated gentleman got 
upon his legs with difficulty. 

"Catch me wrestling with him again. He's most 
knocked my head off," snarled Jack, holding on to that 
portion of his frame as if it really was loose upon his 
shoulders. 

" The fact is, we began in fun, but when I got him 
down I couldn't help pounding him. Sorry I hurt you, 
old fellow," explained Dan, looking rather ashamed of 
himself. 

" I understand. The longing to pitch into somebody 
was so strong you couldn't resist. You are a sort of 
Berserker, Dan, and something to tussle with is as 
necessary to you as music is to Nat," said Mr. Bliaer, 
who knew all about the conversation between the boj 7 
and Mrs. Jo. 

" Can't help it. So if you don't want to be pounded 
you'd better keep out of the way," answered Dan, 
with a warning look in his black eyes that made Jack 
sheer off in haste. 

"If you want something to wrestle with, I will give 
you a tougher specimen than Jack," said Mr. Bhaer; 
and, leading the way to the wood-yard, he pointed 
out certain roots of trees that had been grubbed up 



TAMING THE COLT. 283 

in the spring, and had been lying there waiting to 
be split. 

" There, when you feel inclined to maltreat the boys, 
just come and work off your energies here, and I '11 
thank you for it." 

" So I will ; " and, seizing the axe that lay near, Dan 
hauled out a tough root, and went at it so vigorously, 
that the chips flew far and wide, and Mr. Bhaer fled 
for his life. 

To his great amusement, Dan took him at his word, 
and was often seen wrestling with the ungainly knots, 
hat and jacket off, red face, and wrathful eyes; for he 
got into royal rages over some of his adversaries, and 
swore at them under his breath till he had conquered 
them, when he exulted, and marched off to the shed 
with an armful of gnarled oak-wood in triumph. He 
blistered his hands, tired his back, and dulled the axe, 
but it did him good, and he got more comfort out of 
the ugly roots than any one dreamed, for with each 
blow he worked off some of the pent-up power that 
would otherwise have been expended in some less 
harmless way. 

" When this is gone I really don't know what I shall 
do," said Mrs. Jo to herself, for no inspiration came, 
and she was at the end of her resources. 

But Dan found a new occupation for himself, and 
enjoyed it some time before any one discovered the 
cause of his contentment. A fine young horse of Mr. 
Laurie's was kept at Plumfield that summer, running 
loose in a large pasture across the brook. The boys 
were all interested in the handsome, spirited creature, 
and for a time were fond of watching him gallop and 



LITTLE MEN. 



frisk with his plumey tail flying, and his handsome 
head in the air. But they soon got tired of it, and lefl 
Prince Charlie to himself. All but Dan, he never tired 
of looking at the horse, and seldom failed to visit him 
each day with a lump of sugar, a bit of bread, or an 
apple to make him welcome. Charlie was grateful, 
accepted his friendship, and the two loved one another 
as if they felt some tie between them, inexplicable but 
strong. In whatever part of the wide field he might 
be, Charlie always came at full speed when Dan 
whistled at the bars, and the boy was never happier 
than when the beautiful, fleet creature put its head on 
his shoulder, looking up at him with fine eyes full of 
intelligent affection. 

" We understand one another without any palaver, 
don't we, old fellow ? " Dan would say, proud of the 
horse's confidence, and so jealous of his regard, that he 
told no one how well the friendship prospered, and 
never asked anybody but Teddy to accompany him on 
these daily visits. 

Mr. Laurie came now and then to see how Charlie 
got on, and spoke of having him broken to harness in 
the autumn. 

" He won't need much taming, he is such a gentle, 
fine-tempered brute. I shall come out and try him 
with a saddle mvself some dav," he said, on one of 

V *t ' 

these visits. 

"He lets me put a halter on him, but I don't believe 
he will bear a saddle even if you put it on," answered 
Dan, who never failed to be present when Charlie and 
his master met. 

" I shall coax him to bear it, and not mind a few 



TAMING THE COLT. 285 

tumbles at first. He has never been harshly treated, so, 
though he will be surprised at the new performances, I 
think he won't be frightened, and his antics will do no 
harm." 

" I wonder what he would do," said Dan to himself, 
as Mr. Laurie went away with the Professor, and 
Charlie returned to the bars, from which he had retired 
when the gentlemen came up. 

A daring fancy to try the experiment took possession 
of the boy as he sat on the topmost rail with the 
glossy back temptingly near him. Never thinking of 
danger, he obeyed the impulse, and while Charlie 
unsuspectingly nibbled at the apple he held, Dan quick- 
ly and quietly took his seat. He did not keep it long, 
however, for with an astonished snort, Charlie reared 
straight up, and deposited Dan on the ground. The 
fall did not hurt him, for the turf was soft, and he 
jumped up, saying, with a laugh, 

" I did it any way ! Come here, you rascal, and I '11 
try it again." 

But Charlie declined to approach, and Dan left him 
resolving to succeed in the end ; for a struggle like this 

*j * * 

suited him exactlv. Xext time he took a halter, and 

ti 

havino 1 s^ot it on, he played with the horse for a while, 
leading him to and fro, and putting him through 
various antics till he was a little tired ; then Dan sat 
on the wall and gave him bread, but watched his chance, 
and getting a good grip of the halter, slipped on to his 
back. Charlie tried the old trick, but Dan held on, 
having had practice with Toby, who occasionally had 
an obstinate fit, and tried to shake off his rider. 
Charlie was both amazed and indignant ; and after 



286 LITTLE MEN. 

prancing for a minute, set off at a gallop, and away 
went Dan heels over head. If he had not belonged to 
the class of boys who go through all sorts of dangers 
unscathed, he would have broken his neck ; as it was, 
he got a heavy fall, and lay still collecting his wits, 
while Charlie tore round the field tossing his head with 
every sign of satisfaction at the discomfiture of his 
rider. Presently it seemed to occur to him that some- 
thing was wrong with Dan, and, being of a magnani- 
mous nature, he went to see what the matter was. Dan 
let him sniff about and perplex himself for a few 
minutes ; then he looked up at him, saying, as decidedly 
as if the horse could understand, 

" You think you have beaten, but you are mistaken, 
old boy ; and I '11 ride you yet see if I don't." 

He tried no more that day, but soon after attempted 
a new method of introducing Charlie to a burden. He 
strapped a folded blanket on his back, and then let him 
race, and rear, and roll, and fume as much as he liked. 
After a few fits of rebellion Charlie submitted, and in a 
few days permitted Dan to mount him, often stopping 
short to look round, as if he said, half patiently, half 
reproachfully, " I don't understand it, but I suppose you 
mean no harm, so I permit the liberty." 

Dan patted and praised him, and took a short turn 
every day, getting frequent falls, but persisting in spite 
of them, and longing to try a saddle and bridle, but not 
daring to confess what he had done. He had his wish, 
however, for there had been a witness of his pranks who 
said a good word for him. 

" Do you know what that chap has ben doin' lately ? " 
asked Silas of his master, one evening, as he received 
his orders for the next day. 



T AMI NO TEE COLT. 287 

" Which boy ? " said Mr. Bhaer, with an air of res- 
ignation, expecting some sad revelation. 

" Dan, he's ben a breaking the colt, sir, and I wish I 
may die if he ain't done it," answered Silas, chuckling. 

" How do you know ? ' 

" Wai, I kinder keep an eye on the little fellers, and 
most gen'lly know what they 're up to ; so when Dan 
kep going off to the paster, and coming home black and 
blue, I mistrusted that suthing was goin' on. I didn't 
say nothin', but I crep up into the barn chamber, and 
from there I see him goin' through all manner of games 
with Charlie. Blest if he warn't throwed time and 
agin, and knocked round like a bag o' meal. But the 
pluck of the boy did beat all, and he 'peared to like it, 
and kep on as ef bound to beat." 

" But, Silas, you should have stopped it the boy 
might have been killed," said Mr. Bhaer, wondering what 
freak his irrepressibles would take into their heads next. 

" S'pose I oughter ; but there warn't no real danger, 
for Charlie ain't no tricks, and is as pretty a tempered 
horse as ever I see. Fact was, I couldn't bear to spile 
sport, for ef there's any thing I do admire it 's grit, and 
Dan is chock full on't. But now I know he 's hankerin' 
after a saddle, and yet won't take even the old one on 
the sly ; so I just thought I 'd up and tell, and may be 
you 'd let him try what he can do. Mr. Laurie won't 
mind, and Charlie's all the better for V 

" We shall see ; " and off went Mr. Bhaer to inquire 
into the matter. 

Dan owned up at once, and proudly proved that Silas 
was right by showing off his power over Charlie ; for 
by dint of much coaxing, many carrots, and infinite 



288 LITTLE MEN. 

perseverance, he really had succeeded in riding the colt 
with a halter and blanket. Mr. Laurie was much 
amused, and well pleased with Dan's courage and skill, 
and let him have a hand in all future performances ; 
for he set about Charlie's education at once, saying that 
he was not going to be outdone by a slip of a boy. 
Thanks to Dan, Charlie took kindly to the saddle and 
bridle when he had once reconciled himself to the in- 
dignity of the bit ; and after Mr. Laurie had trained 
him a little, Dan was permitted to ride him, to the 
great envy and admiration of the other boys. 

" Isn't he handsome ? and don't he mind me like a 
lamb ? " said Dan one day as he dismounted and stood 
with his arm round Charlie's neck. 

" Yes, and isn't he a much more useful and agreeable 
animal than the wild colt who spent his days racing 
about the field, jumping fences, and running away now 
and then ? " asked Mrs. Bhaer from the steps where she 
always appeared when Dan performed with Charlie. 

" Of course he is. See he won't run away now, even 
if I don't hold him, and he comes to me the minute 1 
whistle ; I have tamed him well, haven't I ? " and Dan 
looked both proud and pleased, as well he might, for, in 
spite of their struggles together. Charlie loved him 
better than his master. 

" I am tamino; a colt too, and I think I shall succeed 

C3 ' 

as well as you if I am as patient and persevering," said 
Mrs. Jo, smiling so significantly at him, that Dan un- 
derstood and answered, laughing, yet in earnest, 

"We won't jump over the fence and run away, but 
stay and let them make a handsome, useful span of us, 
hey, Charlie?" 




" Isn't he handsome? and don't he mind me like a lamb ? said Dan." 

PAGE 288. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

COMPOSITION DAY. 

" LTURRY up, boys, it 's three o'clock, and Uncle 
-CT- Fritz likes us to be punctual, you know," said 
Franz one Wednesday afternoon as a bell rang, and a 
stream of literary-looking young gentlemen with books 
and paper in their hands were seen going toward the 
museum. 

Tommy was in the school-room, bending over his 
desk, much bedaubed with ink, flushed with the ardor 
of inspiration, and in a great hurry as usual, for easy- 
going Bangs never was ready till the very last minute. 
As Franz passed the door looking up laggards, Tommy 
gave one last blot and flourish, and departed out of the 
window waving his paper to dry it as he went. Nan 
followed, looking very important, with a large roll in 
her hand, and Demi escorted Daisy, both evidently 
brimful of some delightful secret. 

The museum was all in order, and the sunshine 
among the hop-vines made pretty shadows on the floor 
as it peeped through the great window. On one side 
sat Mr. and Mrs. Bhaer, on the other was a little table 
on which the compositions were laid as soon as read, 
and in a large semicircle sat the children on camp-stools, 

19 



290 LITTLE MEN. 

which occasionally shut up and let the sitter down, thua 
preventing any stiffness in the assembly. As it took 
too much time to have all read, they took turns, and 
on this Wednesday the younger pupils were the chief 
performers, while the elder ones listened with conde- 
scension and criticised freely. 

" Ladies first ; so Nan may begin," said Mr. Bhaer, 
when the settling of stools and rustling of papers had 
subsided. 

Kan took her place beside the little table, and, with 
a preliminary giggle, read the following interesting 
essay on 

" THE SPONGE. 

" The sponge, my friends, is a most useful and inter- 
esting plant. It grows on rocks under the water, and 
is a kind of sea-weed, I believe. People go and pick it 
and dry it and wash it, because little fish and insects 
live in the holes of the sponge ; I found shells in my 
new one, and sand. Some are very fine and soft ; ba- 
bies are washed with them. The sponge has many uses. 
I will relate some of them, and I hope my friends will 
remember what I say. One use is to wash the face ; I 
don't like it myself, but I do it because I wish to be 
clean. Some people don't, and they are dirty." Here 
the eye of the reader rested sternly upon Dick and 
Dolly, who quailed under it, and instantly resolved to 
scrub themselves virtuously on all occasions. "Another 
use is to wake people up ; I allude to boys par-fa'c-u-lar- 
ly." Another pause after the long word to enjoy the 
smothered laugh that went round the room. " Some 
boys do not get up when called, and Mary Ann squeezes 



COMPOSITION DAY. 291 

the water out of a wet sponge on their faces, and it 
makes them so mad they wake up." Here the laugh 
broke out, and Emil said, as if he had been hit, 

" Seems to me you are wandering from the subject." 

" No, I ain't ; we are to write about vegetables or 
animals, and I 'm doing both : for boys are animals, 
aren't they ? " cried Nan ; and, undaunted by the indig- 
nant " No ! " shouted at her, she calmly proceeded 

" One more interesting tiling is done with sponges, 
and this is when doctors put ether on it, and hold it to 
people's noses when they have teeth out. I shall do 
this when I am bigger, and give ether to the sick, so 
they will go to sleep and not feel me cut off their Ifgs 
and arms." 

" I know somebody who killed cats with it," called 
out Demi, but was promptly crushed by Dan, who up- 
set his camp-stool and put a hat over his face. 

" I will not be interruckted," said Nan, frowning upon 
the unseemly scrimmagers. Order was instantly re- 
stored, and the young lady closed her remarks as 
follows : 

"My composition has three morals, my friends." 
Somebody groaned, but no notice was taken of the in- 
sult. " First, is keep your faces clean second, get up 
early third, when the ether sponge is put over your 
nose, breathe hard and don't kick, and your teeth will 
come out easy. I have no more to say." And Misa 
Nan sat down amid tumultuous applause. 

" That is a very remarkable composition ; its tone is 
high, and there is a good deal of humor in it. Very 
well done, Nan. Now Daisy," and Mr. Bhaer smiled at 
one young lady as he beckoned to the other. 



292 LITTLE HEX. 

Daisy colored prettily as she took her place, and said, 
in her modest little voice, 

" I 'm afraid you won't like mine ; it isn't nice and 
funuv like Xan's. But I couldn't do anv better." 

i 

" We alwavs like vours, POSY," said Uncle Fritz, and 

t * * 

a gentle murmur from the boys seemed to confirm the 
remark. Thus encouraged, Daisy read her little paper, 
which was listened to with respectful attention. 

"THE CAT. 
" The cat is a sweet animal. I love them verv much, 



They are clean and pretty, and catch rats and mice, and 
let you pet them, and are fond of you if you are kind. 
They are very wise, and can find their way anywhere. 
Little cats are called kittens, and are dear things. I have 
two, named Huz and Buz, and their mother is Topaz, 
because she has yellow eyes. Uncle told me a pretty 
storv about a man named Ma-ho-met. He had a nice 



cat, and when she was asleep on his sleeve, and he 
wanted to go away, he cut off the sleeve so as not to 
wake her up. I think he was a kind man. Some cats 
catch fish." 

" So do I ! r ' cried Teddy, jumping up eager to tell 
about his trout. 

" Hush ! " said his mother, setting him down again as 
quickly as possible, for orderly Daisy hated to be " in- 
terruckted " as Xan expressed it. 

"I read about one who used to do it verv s,lvlv. 1 

V * 

tried to make Topaz, but she did not like the water, and 
scratched me. She does like tea, and when I play in my 
kitchen she pats the teapot with her paw, till I give her 
Borne. She is a fine cat, she eats apple-pudding and 
molasses. Most cats do not." 



COMPOSITION DAY. 293 

" That 's a first-rater," called out Nat, and Daisy re- 
tired, pleased with the praise of her friend. 

" Demi looks so impatient we must have him up at 
once or he won't hold out," said Uncle Fritz, and Demi 
skipped up with alacrity. 

" Mine is a poem ! 5: he announced in a tone of 
triumph, and read his first effort in a loud and solemn 
voice : 

" I write about the butterfly, 

It is a pretty thing ; 
And flies about like the birds, 
But it does not sing. 

" First it is a little grub, 

And then it is a nice yellow cocoon, 
And then the butterfly 
Eats its way out soon. 

" They live on dew and honey, 

They do not have any hive, 

They do not sting like wasps, and bees, and hornets, 
And to be as good as they are we should strive. 

" I should like to be a beautiful butterfly, 

All yellow, and blue, and green, and red ; 
But I should not like 

To have Dan put camphor on my poor little head." 

This unusual burst of genius brought down the house, 
and Demi was obliged to read it again, a somewhat 
difficult task, as there was no punctuation whatever, 
and the little poet's breath gave out before he got to 
the end of some of the Ions: lines. 

o 

" He will be a Shakspeare yet," said Aunt Jo, laugh- 
ing as if she would die, for this poetic gem reminded 



,94 LITTLE MEN. 

her of one of her own, written at the age of ten, and 
beginning gloomily 

" I wish I had a quiet tomb, 

Beside a little rill ; 

Where birds, and bees, and butterflies, 
Would sing upon the hill." 

w Come on, Tommy. If there is as much ink inside 
your paper as there is outside, it will be a long compo- 
sition," said Mr. Bhaer, when Demi had been induced 
to tear himself from his poem and sit down. 

" It isn't a composition, it's a letter. You see, I forgot 
all about its being my turn till after school, and then 1 
didn't know what to have, and there wasn't time to read 
up ; so I thought you wouldn't mind my taking a letter 
that I wrote to my Grandma. It 's got something about 
birds in it, so I thought it would do." 

With this long excuse, Tommy plunged into a sea of 
ink and floundered through, pausing now and then to 
decipher one of his own flourishes. 

" MY DEAR GKANDMA, I hope you are well. Uncle 
James sent me a pocket rifle. It is a beautiful little in- 
strument of killing, shaped like this [Here Tommy 
displayed a remarkable sketch of what looked like an 
intricate pump, or the inside of a small steam-enginej 
44 are the sights ; 6 is a false stock that fits in at 
A; 3 is the trigger, and 2 is the cock. It loads at 
the breech, and fires with great force and straightness. 
I am going out shooting squirrels soon. I shot several 
fine birds for the museum. They had speckled breasts, 
and Dan liked them very much. He stuffed them tip- 
top, and they nit on the tree quite natural, only one 



COMPOSITION DAY. 295 

looks a little tipsy. We had a Frenchman working 
here the other day, and Asia called his name so funnily 
that I will tell you about it. His name was Germain : 
first she called him Jerry, but we laughed at her, and 
she changed it to Jeremiah ; but ridicule was the result, 
so it became Mr. Germany ; but ridicule having been 
again resumed, it became Garrymon, which it has re- 
mained ever since. I do not write often, I am so busy; 
but I think of you often, and sympathize with you, and 
sincerely hope you get on as well as can be expected 
without me. Your affectionate grandson, 

" THOMAS BUCKHHSTSTER BANGS." 

" P.S. If you come across any postage-stamps, re- 
member me. 

" N.B. Love to all, and a great deal to Aunt 
Almira. Does she make any nice plum-cakes now? 

"P.S. Mrs. Bhaer sends her respects. 

"P.S. And so would Mr. B. if he knew I was in 
act to write. 

" JV.JB. Father is going to give me a watch on my 
birthday. I am glad, as at present I have no means of 
telling time, and am often late at school. 

"P.S. I hope to see you soon. Don't you wish to 
send for me ? T. B. B." 

As each postscript was received with a fresh laugh 
from the boys, by the time he came to the sixth and 
last, Tommy was so exhausted that he was glad to sit 
down and wipe his ruddy face. 

" I hope the dear old lady will live through it," said 
Mr. Bhaer, under cover of the noise. 



296 LITTLE MEN. 

" We won't take any notice of the broad hint given 
in that last P.S. The letter will be quite as much aa 
she can bear without a visit from Tommy," answered 
Mrs. Jo, remembering that the old lady usually took to 
her bed after a visitation from her irrepressible grand- 
son. 

"Now, me," said Teddy, who had learned a bit of 
poetry, and was so eager to say it that he had been 
bobbing up and down during the reading, and could 
no longer be restrained. 

" I 'in afraid he will forget it if he waits ; and I have 
had a deal of trouble in teaching him," said his mother. 

Teddy trotted to the rostrum, dropped a curtsey and 
nodded his head at the same time, as if anxious to suit 
every one; then, in his baby voice, and putting the 
emphasis on the wrong words, he said his verse all in 
one breath : 

" Little drops of water, 

Little drains of sand, 
Mate a mighty okum (ocean), 

And a peasant land. 
Little worts of kindness, 

Pokin evvy day, 
Make a home a hebbin, 

And hep us on a way." 

Clapping his hands at the end, he made another 
double salutation, and then ran to hide his head in his 
mother's lap, quite overcome by the success of his 
" piece," for the applause was tremendous. 

Dick and Dolly did not write, but were encouraged 
to observe the habits of animals and insects, and re- 
port what they saw. Dick liked this, and always had 



COMPOSITION DAT. 297 

a great deal to say ; so, when his name was called, he 
marched up, and, looking at the audience with his bright 
confiding eyes, told his little story so earnestly that no 
one smiled at his crooked body, because the " straight 
soul " shone through it beautifully. 

"I've been watching dragonflies, and I read about 
them in Dan's book, and I '11 try and tell you what I 
remember. There 's lots of them flying round on the 
pond, all blue, with big eyes, and sort of lace wings, 
very pretty. I caught one, and looked at him, and I 
think he was the handsomest inseck I ever saw. They 
catch littler creatures than they are to eat, and have a 
queer kind of hook thing that folds up when they ain't 
hunting. It likes the sunshine, and dances round all 
day. Let me see ! what else was there to tell about ? 
Oh, I know ! The eggs are laid in the water, and go 
down to the bottom, and are hatched in the mud. Little 
ugly things come out of 'em ; I can't say the name, but 
they are brown, and keep having new skins, and getting 
bigger and bigger. Only think! it takes them two 
years to be a dragonfly ! Now this is the curiousestf 
part of it, so you listen tight, for I don't believe you 
know it. When it is ready it knows somehow, and the 
ugly, grubby thing climbs up out of the water on a flag 
or a bulrush, and bursts open its back." 

" Come, I don't believe that," said Tommy, who was 
not an observing boy, and really thought Dick was 
"making up." 

"It does burst open its back, don't it?" and Dick 
appealed to Mr. Bhaer, who nodded a very decided 
affirmative, to the little speaker's great satisfaction. 

" Well, out comes the dragonfly, all whole, and he 



298 LITTLE MEN. 

sits in the sun sort of coming alive, you know : and 
he gets strong, and then he spreads his pretty wings, 
and flies away up in the air, and never is a grub any 
more. That 's all I know ; but I shall watch and try 
and see him do it, for I think it's splendid to turn into 
a beautiful dragonfly, don't you ? " 

Dick had told his story well, and, when he described 
the flight of the new-born insect, had w r aved his hands, 
and looked up as if he saw, and wanted to follow it. 
Something in his face suggested to the minds of the 
elder listeners the thought that some day little Dick 
would have his wish, and after years of helplessness 
and pain would climb up into the sun some happy day, 
and, leaving his poor little body behind him, find a new 
and lovely shape in a fairer world than this. Mrs. Jo 
drew him to her side, and said, with a kiss on his thin 
cheek, 

" That is a sweet little story, dear, and you remem- 
bered wonderfully well. I shall write and tell your 
mother all about it;" and Dick sat on her knee, con- 
tentedly smiling at the praise, and resolving to watch 
well, and catch the dragonfly in the act of leaving its 
old body for the new, and see how he did it. Dolly 
had a few remarks to make upon the " Duck," and made 
them in a sing-song tone, for he had learned it by heart, 
and thought it a great plague to do it at all. 

" Wild ducks are hard to kill ; men hide and shoot at 
them, and have tame ducks to quack and make the wild 
ones come where the men can fire at them. They have 
wooden ducks made too, and they sail round, and the 
wild ones come to see them ; they are stupid, I think. 
Our ducks are very tame. They eat a great deal, and 



COMPOSITION DAY. 299 

go poking round in the mud and water. They don't 
take good care of their eggs, but let them spoil, and " 

" Mine don't ! " cried Tommy. 

" Well, some people's do ; Silas said so. Hens take 
good care of little ducks, only they don't like to have 
them go in the water, and make a great fuss. But the 
little ones don't care a bit. I like to eat ducks with 
stuffing in them, and lots of apple-sauce." 

" I have something to say about owls," began Nat, 
who had carefully prepared a paper upon this subject 
with some help from Dan. 

" Owls have big heads, round eyes, hooked bills, and 
strong claws. Some are gray, some white, some black 
and yellowish. Their feathers are very soft, and stick 
out a great deal. They fly very quietly, and hunt 
bats, mice, little birds, and such things. They build 
nests in barns, hollow trees, and some take the nests of 
other birds. The great horned owl has two eggs 
bigger than a hen's, and reddish brown. The tawny 
owl has five eggs, white and smooth ; and this is the 
kind that hoots at night. Another kind sounds like a 
child crying. They eat mice and bats whole, and the 
parts that they cannot digest they make into little balls 
and spit out." 

" My gracious ! how funny ! " Nan was heard to 
observe. 

" They cannot see by day ; and if they get out into 
the light, they go flapping round half blind, and the 
other birds chase and peck at them as if they were 
making fun. The horned owl is very big, 'most as big 
as the eagle. It eats rabbits, rats, snakes, and birds ; 
and lives in rocks and old tumble-down houses. They 



300 LITTLE MEN. 

have a good many cries, and scream like a person being 
choked, and say, ' Waugh O ! waugh O ! ' and it scares 
people at night in the woods. The white owl lives by 
the sea, and in cold places, and looks something like 
a hawk. There is a kind of owl that makes holes to 
live in like moles. It is called the burrowing owl, and 
is very small. The barn-owl is the commonest kind ; 
and I have watched one sitting in a hole in a tree, look- 
ing like a little gray cat, with one eye shut and the 
other open. He comes out at dusk, and sits round 
waiting for the bats. I caught one, and here he is." 

With that Nat suddenly produced from inside his 
jacket a little downy bird, who blinked and ruffled 
up his feathers, looking very plump and sleepy and 
scared. 

" Don't touch him ! He is going to show off," said 
Nat, displaying his new pet with great pride. First he 
put a cocked hat on the bird's head, and the boys 
laughed at the funny effect ; then he added a pair of 
paper spectacles, and that gave the owl such a wise 
look that they shouted with merriment. The per- 
formance closed with making the bird angry, and 
seeing him cling to a handkerchief upside down, 
pecking and "clucking," as Rob called it. He was 
allowed to fly after that, and settled himself on the 
bunch of pine-cones over the door, where he sat staring 
down at the company with an air of sleepy dignity that 
mused them very much. 

"Have you any thing for us, George?" asked Mr. 
Bhaer, when the room was still again. 

" Well, I read and learned ever so much about moles, 
but I declare I Ve forgotten every bit of it, except that 



COMPOSITION DAY. 301 

they dig holes to live in, that you catch them by pour- 
ing water down, and that they can't possibly live 
without eating very often;" and Stuffy sat down, 
wishing he had not been too lazy to write out his 
valuable observations, for a general smile went round 
when he mentioned the last of the three facts which 
lingered in his memory. 

" Then we are done for to-day," began Mr. Bhaer, 
but Tommy called out, in a great hurry, 

"No, we ain't. Don't you know? We must give 
the thing ; " and he winked violently as he made an 
eye-glass of his fingers. 

"Bless my heart, I forgot! Now is your time, 
Tom;" and Mr. Bhaer dropped into his seat again, 
while all the boys but Dan looked mightily tickled at 
something. 

Nat, Tommy, and Demi left the room, and speedily 
returned with a little red morocco box set forth in state 
on Mrs. Jo's best silver salver. Tommy bore it, and, 
still escorted by Nat and Demi, marched up to unsus- 
pecting Dan, who stared at them as if he thought they 
were going to make fun of him. Tommy had prepared 
an elegant and impressive speech for the occasion, but 
when the minute came, it all went out of his head, and 
he just said, straight from his kindly boyish heart, 

" Here, old fellow, we all wanted to give you some- 
thing to kind of pay for what happened awhile ago, 
and to show how much we liked you for being such 
a trump. Please take it, and have a jolly good time 
with it." 

Dan was so surprised he could only get as red as the 
little box, and mutter " Thanky, boys ! " as he fumbled 



302 LITTLE MEN. 

to open it. But when he saw what was inside, his face 
lighted up, and he seized the long desired treasure, 
saying, so enthusiastically that every one was satisfied, 
though his language was any thing but polished, 

" What a stunner ! I say, you fellows are regular 
bricks to give me this; it's just what I wanted. Give 
us your paw, Tommy." 

Many paws were given, and heartily shaken, for the 
boys were charmed with Dan's pleasure, and crowded 
round him to shake hands and expatiate on the beau- 
ties of their gift. In the midst of this pleasant chatter, 
Dan's eye went to Mrs. Jo, who stood outside the group 
enjoying the scene with all her heart. 

" No, I had nothing to do with it. The boys got it 
up all themselves," she said, answering the grateful look 
that seemed to thank her for that happy moment. 
Dan smiled, and said, in a tone that only she could 
understand, 

"It's you all the same;" and making his way through 
the boys, he held out his hand first to her and then to 
the good Professor, who was beaming benevolently on 
his flock. 

He thanked them both with the silent, hearty squeeze 
he gave the kind hands that had held him up and led 
him into the safe refuge of a happy home. Not a word 
was spoken, but they felt all he would say, and little 
Teddy expressed their pleasure for them as he leaned 
from his father's arm to hug the boy, and say, in his 
baby way, 

" My dood Danny ! everybody loves him now." 

" Come here, show off your spy-glass, Dan, and let us 
see some of your magnified polly wogs and annymalcum- 



COMPOSITION DAY. 803 

fsms as you call 'em," said Jack, who felt so uncomfort- 
able during this scene that he would have slipped away 
if Emil had not kept him. 

" So I will, take a squint at that and see what you 
think of it," said Dan, glad to show off his precious 
microscope. 

He held it over a beetle that happened to be lying 
on the table, and Jack bent down to take his squint, 
but looked up with an amazed face, saying, 

" My eye ! what nippers the old thing has got ! I 
see now why it hurts so confoundedly when you grab a 
dorbug and he grabs back again." 

" He winked at me," cried Nan, who had poked her 
head under Jack's elbow and got the second peep. 

Every one took a look, and then Dan showed them 
the lovely plumage on a moth's wing, the four feathery 
corners to a hair, the veins on a leaf, hardly visible to 
the naked eye, but like a thick net through the won- 
derful little glass ; the skin on their own fingers, looking 
like queer hills and valleys; a cobweb like a bit of 
coarse sewing silk, and the sting of a bee. 

" It 's like the fairy spectacles in my story-book, only 
more curious," said Demi, enchanted with the wonders 
he saw. 

" Dan is a magician now, and he can show you many 
miracles going on all round you ; for he has two things 
needful patience and a love of nature. We live in a 
beautiful and wonderful world, Demi, and the more you 
know about it the wiser and the better you will be. 
This little glass will give you a new set of teachers, and 
you may learn fine lessons from them if you will," said 
Mr. Bhaer, glad to see how interested the boys were in 
the matter. 



304 LITTLE MEN. 

*' Could I see anybody's soul with this microscope if I 
looked hard?" asked Demi, who was much impressed 
with the power of the bit of glass. 

"No, dear; it's not powerful enough for that, and 
never can be made so. You must wait a Ions: while 

O 

before your eyes are clear enough to see the most in- 
visible of God's wonders. But looking at the lovely 
things you can see will help you to understand the 
lovelier things you can not see," answered Uncle Fritz, 
with his hand on the boy's head. 

" Well, Daisy and I both think that if there are any 
angels, their wings look like that butterfly's as we see 
it through the glass, only more soft and gold." 

" Believe it if you like, and keep your own little 
wings as bright and beautiful, only don't fly away for a 
long time yet." 

" No, I won't," and Demi kept his word. 

"Good-by, my boys; I must go now, but I leave 
you with our new Professor of Natural History ; " and 
Mrs. Jo went away well pleased with that composition- 
day. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

CROPS. 

r | "Mini gardens did well that summer, and in Septem- 
* ber the little crops were gathered in with much 
rejoicing. Jack and Ned joined their farms and raised 
potatoes, those being a good salable article. They got 
twelve bushels, counting little ones and all, and sold 
them to Mr. Bhaer at a fair price, for potatoes went fast 
in that house. Emil and Franz devoted themselves to 
corn, and had a jolly little husking in the barn, after 
which they took their corn to the mill, and came 
proudly home with meal enough to supply the family 
with hasty-pudding and Johnny-cake for a long time. 
They would not take money for their crop ; because, as 
Franz said, " We never can pay Uncle for all he has 
done for us if we raised corn for the rest of our clays." 

Nat had beans in such abundance that he despaired 
of ever shelling them, till Mrs. Jo proposed a new way, 
which succeeded admirably. The dry pods were spread 
upon the barn-floor, Nat fiddled, and the boys danced 
quadrilles on them, till they were thrashed out with 
much merriment and very little labor. 

Tommy's six weeks' beans were a failure ; for a dry 

spell early in the season hurt them, because he gave them 

20 



306 LITTLE MEN. 

no water ; and after that he was so sure that they could 
take care of themselves, he let the poor things struggle 
with bugs and weeds till they were exhausted, and died a 
lingering death. So Tommy had to dig his farm over 
again, and plant peas. But they were late ; the birds 
ate many ; the bushes, not being firmly planted, blew 
down, and when the poor peas came at last, no one 
cared for them, as their day was over, and spring-lamb 
had grown into mutton. Tommy consoled himself 
with a charitable effort ; for he transplanted all the 
thistles he could find, and tended them carefully for 
Toby, who was fond of the prickly delicacy, and had 
eaten all he could find on the place. The boys had 
great fun over Tom's thistle bed ; but he insisted that 
it was better to care for poor Toby than for himself 
and declared that he would devote his entire farm next 
year to thistles, worms, and snails, that Demi's turtles 
and Nat's pet owl might have the food they loved, as 
well as the donkey. So like shiftless, kind-hearted, hap- 
py-go-lucky Tommy ! 

Demi had supplied his grandmother with lettuce all 
summer, and in the autumn sent his grandfather a bas- 
ket of turnips, each one scrubbed up till it looked like a 
great white egg. His Grandma was fond of salad, and 
one of his Grandpa's favorite quotations was 

"Lucullus, whom frugality could charm, 
Ate roasted turnips at the Sabine farm." 

Therefore these vegetable offerings to the dear domes- 
tic god and goddess were affectionate, appropriate, and 
classical. 

Daisy had nothing but flowers in her little 



CROPS. 307 

and it bloomed all summer long with a succession of 
gay or fragrant posies. She was very fond of her gar^ 
den, and delved away in it at all hours, watching over 
her roses, and pansies, sweet-peas, and mignonette, as 
faithfully and tenderly as she did over her dolls or her 
friends. Little nosegays were sent into town on all 
occasions, and certain vases about the house were her 
especial care. She had all sorts of pretty fancies about her 
flowers, and loved to tell the children the story of the 
pansy, and show them how the step-mother-leaf sat up 
in her green chair in purple and gold ; how the two own 
children in gay yellow had each its little seat, while the 
step children, in dull colors, both sat on one small 
stool, and the poor little father, in his red nightcap, was 
kept out of sight in the middle of the flower ; that a 
monk's dark face looked out of the monk's-hood larks- 
pur ; that the flowers of the canary-vine were so like 
dainty birds fluttering their yellow wings, that one al- 
most expected to see them fly away, and the snapdragons 
that went oif like little pistol-shots when you cracked 
them. Splendid dollies did she make out of scarlet 
and white poppies, with ruffled robes tied round the 
waist with grass blade sashes, and astonishing hats of 
coriopsis on their green heads. Pea-pod boats, with 
rose-leaf sails, received these flower-people, and floated 
them about a placid pool in the most charming style ; 
for finding that there were no elves, Daisy made her 
own, and lowed the fanciful little friends who played 
their parts in her summer-life. 

Nan went in for herbs, and had a fine display of use- 
ful plants, which she tended with steadily increasing 
interest and care. Very busy was she in September 



308 LITTLE MEN. 

cutting, drying, and tying up her sweet harvest, and 
writing down in a little book how the different herbs are 
to be used. She had tried several experiments, and made 
several mistakes ; so she wished to be particular lest 
she should give little Huz another fit by administering 
Wormwood instead of catnip. 

Dick, Dolly, and Rob each grubbed away on his 
small farm, and made more stir about it than all the 
rest put together. Parsnips and carrots were the crops 
of the two D.'s ; and they longed for it to be late enough 
to pull up the precious vegetables. Dick did privately 
examine his carrots, and plant them again, feeling that 
Silas was right in saying it was too soon for them yet. 

Rob's crop was four small squashes and one immense 
pumpkin. It really was a " bouncer," as every one said ; 
and I assure you that two small persons could sit on it 
side by side. It seemed to have absorbed all the good- 
ness of the little garden, and all the sunshine that shone 
down on it, and lay there a great round, golden ball, full 
of rich suggestions of pumpkin-pies for weeks to come. 
Robby was so proud of his mammoth vegetable that he 
took every one to see it, and, when frosts began to nip, 
covered it up each night with an old bedquilt, tucking it 
round as if the pumpkin was a well-beloved baby. The 
day it was gathered he would let no one touch it but 
himself, and nearly broke his back tugging it to the 
barn in his little wheelbarrow, with Dick and Dolly 
harnessed in front to give a heave up the path. His 
mother promised him that the Thanksgiving-pies should 
be made from it, and hinted vaguely that she had a plan 
in her head which would cover the prize pumpkin and 
its owner with glory. 



CHOPS. 309 

Poor Billy had planted cucumbers, but unfortunately 
hoed them up and left the pig-weed. This mistake 
grieved him very much for ten minutes, then he forgot 
all about it, and sowed a handful of bright buttons 
which he had collected, evidently thinking in his feeble 
mind that they were money, and would come up and 
multiply, so that he might make many quarters, as 
Tommy did. No one disturbed him, and he did what 
he liked with his plot, which soon looked as if a series 
of small earthquakes had stirred it up. When the 
general harvest-day came, he would have had nothing 
but stones and weeds to show, if kind old Asia had not 
hung half a dozen oranges on the dead tree he had 
stuck up in the middle. Billy was delighted with his 
crop ; and no one spoiled his pleasure in the little 
miracle which pity wrought for him, by making with- 
ered branches bear strange fruit. 

Stuffy had various trials with his melons ; for, being 
impatient to taste them, he had a solitary revel before 
they were ripe, and made himself so ill, that for a day 
or two it seemed doubtful if he would ever eat any . 
more. But he pulled through it, and served up his first 
eantelope without tasting a mouthful himself. They 
were excellent melons, for he had a warm slope for 
them, and they ripened fast. The last and best were 
lingering on the vines, and Stuffy had announced that 
he should sell them to a neighbor. This disappointed 
the boys, who had hoped to eat the melons themselves, 
and they expressed their displeasure in a new and 
striking manner. Going one morning to gaze upon 
the three fine watermelons which he had kept for the 
xnarket, Stuffy was horrified to find the word "PIG" 



310 LITTLE MEN. 

cut in white letters on the green rind, staring at him 
from every one. He was in a great rage, and flew to 
Mrs. Jo for redress. She listened, condoled with him, 
and then said 

"If you want to turn the laugh, I'll tell you how, 
but you must give up the melons." 

" Well, I will ; for I can't thrash all the boys, but I 'd 
like to give them something to remember, the mean 
sneaks," growled Stuffy, still in a fume. 

Now Mrs. Jo was pretty sure who had done the 
trick, for she had seen three heads suspiciously near to 
one another in the sofa-corner the evening before : and 

CD j 

when these heads had nodded with chuckles and 
whispers, this experienced woman knew that mischief 
was afoot. A moonlight night, a rustling in the old 
cherry-tree near Emil's window, a cut on Tommy's 
finger, all helped to confirm her suspicions ; and having 
cooled Stuffy's wrath a little, she bade him bring his 
maltreated melons to her room, and say not a word to 
any one of what had happened. He did so, and the 
three wags were amazed to find their joke so quietly 
taken. It spoilt the fun, and the entire disappearance 
of the melons made them uneasy. So did Stuffy's 
good-nature, for he looked more placid and plump than 
ever, and surveyed them with an air of calm pity that 
perplexed them much. 

At dinner-time they discovered why; for then 
Stuffy's vengeance fell upon them, and the laugh was 
turned against them. When the pudding was eaten, 
and the fruit was put on, Mary Ann re-appeared in a 
high state of giggle, bearing a large water-melon ; 
Silas followed with another ; and Dan brought up the 



CROPS. 311 

rear with a third. One was placed before each of the 
three guilty lads ; and they read on the smooth green 
skin this addition to their own work, " With the com- 
pliments of the PIG." Every one else read it also, and 
the whole table was in a roar, for the trick had been, 
whispered about ; so every one understood the sequel. 
Emil, Ned, and Tommy did not know where to look, 
and had not a word to say for themse^es; so they 
wisely joined in the laugh, cut up the melons, and 
handed them round, saying, what all the rest agreed to, 
that Stuffy had taken a wise and merry way to return 
good for evil. 

Dan had no garden, for he was away or lame the 
greater part of the summer ; so he had helped Silas 
wherever he could, chopped wood for Asia, and tak- 
en care of the lawn so well, that Mrs. Jo always 
had smooth paths and nicely shaven turf before her 
door. 

When the others got in their crops, he looked sorry 
that he had so little to show ; but as autumn went on, 
he bethought him of a woodland harvest which no one 
would dispute with him, and which was peculiarly his 
own. Every Saturday he was away alone to forests, 
fields, and hills, and always came back loaded with 
spoils ; for he seemed to know the meadows where the 
best flag-root grew, the thicket where the sassafras was 
spiciest, the haunts where the squirrels went for nuts, 
the white oak whose bark was most valuable, and the 
little gold-thread vine that Nursey liked to cure the 
canker with. All sorts of splendid red and yellow 
leaves did Dan bring home for Mrs. Jo to dress her 
parlor with, graceful-seeded grasses, clematis tassel?, 



312 LITTLE MEN. 

downy, soft, yellow wax-work berries, and mosses, red* 
brimmed, white, or emerald green. 

" I need not sigh for the woods now, because Dan 
brings the woods to me," Mrs. Jo used to say, as she 
glorified the walls with yellow maple boughs and scar, 
let woodbine wreaths, or filled her vases with russet 
ferns, hemlock sprays full of delicate cones, and hardy 
autumn flowers ; for Dan's crop suited her well. 

The great garret was full of the children's little stores, 
and for a time was one of the sights of the house. 
Daisy's flower seeds in neat little paper bags, all labelled, 
lay in the drawer of a three-legged table. Nan's herbs 
hung in bunches against the wall, filling the air with 
their aromatic breath. Tommy had a basket of thistle- 
down with the tiny seeds attached, for he meant to 
plant them next year, if they did not all fly away before 
that time. Emil had bunches of pop-corn hanging 
there to dry, and Demi laid up acorns and different 
sorts of grain for the pets. But Dan's crop made the 
best show, for fully one half of the floor was covered 
with the nuts he brought. All kinds were there, for he 
ranged the woods for miles round, climbed the tallest 
trees, and forced his way into the thickest hedges for 
his plunder. Walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and beech- 
nuts lay in separate compartments, getting brown, and 
dry, and sweet, ready for winter revels. 

There was one butternut-tree on the place, and Rob 
and Teddy called it theirs. It bore well this year, and 
the great dingy nuts came dropping down to hide 
among the dead leaves, where the busy squirrels found 
them better than the lazy Bhaers. Their father had 
told them (the boys, not the squirrels) they should have 



CROPS. 313 

the nuts if they would pick them up, but no one was 
to help. It was easy work, and Teddy liked it, only 
he soon got tired, and left his little basket half full for 
another day. But the other day was slow to arrive, 
and, meantime, the sly squirrels were hard at work 
scampering up and down the old elm-trees stowing the 
nuts away till their holes were full, then all about in 
the crotches of the boughs, to be removed at their lei- 
sure. Their funny little ways amused the boys, till one 
day Silas said 

"Hev you sold them nuts to the squirrels?" 

" No," answered Rob, wondering what Silas meant, 

" Wai, then, you 'd better fly round, or them spry 
little fellers won't leave you none." 

" Oh, we can beat them when we begin. There are 
such lots of nuts we shall have a plenty." 

"There ain't many more to come down, and they 
have cleared the ground pretty well, see if they hain't." 

Robby ran to look, and was alarmed to find how few 
remained. He called Teddy, and they worked hard all 
one afternoon, while the squirrels sat on the fence and 
scolded. 

"Now, Ted, we must keep watch, and pick up just 
as fast as they fall, or we shan't have more than a 
bushel, and every one will laugh at us if we don't." 

" The naughty quillies tarn't have 'em. I 'II pick 
fast and run and put 'em in the barn twick," said Teddy, 
frowning at little Frisky, who chattered and whisked 
his tail indignantly. 

That night a high wind blew down hundreds of nuts, 
and when Mrs. Jo came to wake her little sons, she 
said, briskly, 



314 LITTLE MEX. 

" Come, my laddies, the squirrels are hard at it, and 
you will have to work well to-day, or they will have 
every nut on the ground." 

" No, they won't," and Robby tumbled up in a great 
hurry, gobbled his breakfast, and rushed out to save his 
property. 

Teddy went too, and worked like a little beaver, trot- 
ting to and fro with full and empty baskets. Another 
bushel was soon put away in the corn barn, and they 
were scrambling among the leaves for more nuts when 
the bell rant? for school. 

d? 

" O father ! let me stay out and pick. Those horrid 
squirrels will have my nuts if you don't. I '11 do my 
lessons by and by," cried Rob, running into the school- 
room, flushed and tousled by the fresh cold wind and 
his eager work. 

O 

" If you had been up early and done a little every 
morning there would be no hurry now. I told you 
that, Rob, and you never minded. I cannot have the 
lessons neglected as the work has been. The squirrels 
will get more than their share this year, and they de- 
serve it, for they have worked best. You may go an 
hour earlier, but that is all," and Mr. Bhaer led Rob to 
his place, where the little man dashed at his books as 
if bent on making sure of the precious hour promised 
him. 

It was almost maddening to sit still and see the wind 
shaking down the last nuts, and the lively thieves flying 
about, pausing now and then to eat one in his face, and 
flirt their tails, as if they said, saucily, " We '11 have 
them in spite of you, lazy Rob." The only thing that 
sustained the poor child in this trying moment was the 



CROPS. 315 

sight of Teddy working away all alone. It was really 
splendid the pluck and perseverance of the little lad. 
He picked and picked till his back ached ; he trudged 
to and fro till his small legs were tired ; and he defied 
wind, weariness, and wicked " quillies," till his mother 
{eft her work and did the carrying for him, full of ad- 
miration for the kind little fellow who tried to help his 
brother. When Rob was dismissed he found Teddy 
reposing in the bushel-basket quite used up, but un- 
willing to quit the field ; for he flapped his hat at the 
thieves with one grubby little hand, while he refreshed 
himself with the big apple held in the other. 

Rob fell to work and the ground was cleared before 
two o'clock, the nuts safely in the corn-barn loft, and 
the weary workers exulted in their success. But Frisky 
and his wife were not to be vanquished so easily ; and 
when Rob went up to look at his nuts a few days later 
he was amazed to see how many had vanished. None 
of the boys could have stolen them, because the door 
had been locked ; the doves could not have eaten them, 
and there were no rats about. There was great lamen- 
tation among the young Bhaers till Dick said 

" I saw Frisky on the roof of the corn-barn, may be 
he took them." 

"I know he did! I'll have a trap, and kill him 
dead," cried Rob, disgusted with Frisky's grasping 
nature. 

" Perhaps, if you watch, you can find out where he 
puts them, and I may be able to get them back for you," 
said Dan, who was much amused by the fight between 
the boys and squirrels. 

So Rob watched and saw Mr. and Mrs. Frisky drop 



316 LITTLE MER. 

from the drooping elm boughs on to the roof of the 
corn-barn, dodge in at one of the little doors, much to 
the disturbance of the doves, and come out with a nut in 
each mouth. So laden they could not get back the 
way they came, but ran down the low roof, along the 
wall, and leaping off at a corner they vanished a minute 
and re-appeared without their plunder. Rob ran to the 
place, and in a hollow under the leaves found a heap 
of the stolen property hidden away to be carried off to 
the holes by and by. 

" Oh, you little villains ! I '11 cheat you now, and not 
leave one," said Rob. So he cleared the corner and the 
corn-barn, and put the contested nuts in the garret, 
making sure that no broken window-pane could any- 
where let in the unprincipled squirrels. They seemed 
to feel that the contest was over, and retired to their 
hole, but now and then could not resist throwing down 
nut-shells on Rob's head, and scolding violently as if 
they could not forgive him nor forget that he had the 
best of the battle. 

Father and Mother Bhaer's crop was of a different 
sort, and not so easily described ; but they were satis- 
fied with it, felt that their summer work had prospered 
well, and by and by had a harvest that made them very 
happy 



CHAPTER XIX. 

JOHN BROOKE. 

* T T TAKE up, Demi, dear ! I want you." 

VV "Why, I've just gone to bed; it can't 
morning yet ; " and Demi blinked like a little owl as 
he waked from his first sound sleep. 

" It 's only ten, but your father is ill, and we must go 
to him. O my little John ! my poor little John ! " and 
Aunt Jo laid her head down on the pillow with a sob 
that scared sleep from Demi's eyes and filled his heart 
with fear and wonder; for he dimly felt why Aunt Jo 
called him " John," and wept over him as if some loss 
had come that left him poor. He clung to her without 
a word, and in a minute sho was quite steady again, and 
said, with a tender kiss as she saw his troubled face, 

" We are going to say good-by to him, my darling, 
and there is no time to lose ; so dress quickly and come 
to me in my room. I must go to Daisy." 

" Yes, I will ; " and when Aunt Jo was gone, little 
Demi got up quietly, dressed as if in a dream, and leav- 
ing Tommy fast asleep went away through the silent 
house, feeling that something new and sorrowful was 
going to happen something that set him apart from 
the other boys for a time, and made the world seem as 



818 LITTLE MEN. 

dark and still and strange as those familiar rooms did 
in the night. A carriage sent by Mr. Laurie stood 
before the door. Daisy was soon ready, and the brothel 
and sister held each other by the hand all the way into 
town, as they drove swiftly and silently with aunt and 
uncle through the shadowy roads to say good-by to 
father. 

None of the boys but Franz and Emil knew what 
had happened, and when they came down next morn- 
ing, great was their wonderment and discomfort, for 
the house seemed forlorn without its master and mis- 
tress. Breakfast was a dismal meal with no cheery 
Mrs. Jo behind the teapots; and when school-time 
came, Father Bhaer's place was empty. They wan- 
dered about in a disconsolate kind of way for an hour, 
waiting for news and hoping it would be all right with 
Demi's father, for good John Brooke was much beloved 
by the boys. Ten o'clock came, and no one arrived to re< 
lieve their anxiety. They did not feel like playing, yet 
the time dragged heavily, and they sat about listlesl 
and sober. All at once, Franz got up, and said, in hii 
persuasive way, 

" Look here, boys ! let 's go into school and do oui 
lessons just as if Uncle was here. It will make the daj 
go faster, and will please him, I know." 

" But who will hear us say them ? " asked Jack. 

"I will; I don't know much more than you do, but 
I 'm the oldest here, and I '11 try to fill Uncle's place till 
he comes, if you don't mind." 

Something in the modest, serious way Franz said this 
impressed the boys, for, though the poor lad's eyes were 
red with quiet crying for Uncle John in that long sad 



JOHN BROOKE. 319 

night, there was a new manliness about him, as if he had 
already begun to feel the cares and troubles of life, and 
tried to take them bravely. 

" I will, for one," and Emil went to his seat, remem- 
bering that obedience to his superior officer is a sea- 
man's first duty. 

The others followed ; Franz took his uncle's seat, and 
for an hour order reigned. Lessons were learned and 
said, and Franz made a patient, pleasant teacher, wisely 
omitting such lessons as he was not equal to, and keep- 
ing order more by the unconscious dignity that sorrow 
gave him than by any words of his own. The little 
boys were reading when a step was heard in the hall, 
and every one looked up to read the news in Mr. 
Bhaer's face as he came in. The kind face told them 
instantly that Demi had no father now, for it was worn 
and pale, and full of tender grief, which left him no 
words with which to answer Rob, as he ran to him say- 
ing, reproachfully, 

" What made you go and leave me in the night, 
papa?" 

The memory of the other father who had left his chil- 
dren in the night, never to return, made Mr. Bhaer 
hold his own boy close, and, for a minute, hide his face 
in Robby's curly hair. Emil laid his head down on his 
arms, Franz went to put his hand on his uncle's 
shoulder, his boyish face pale with sympathy and 
sorrow, and the others sat so still that the soft rustle of 
the falling leaves outside was distinctly heard. 

Rob did not clearly understand what had happened, 
but he hated to see papa unhappy, so he lifted up the 
bent head, and said, in his chirpy little voice, 



320 LITTLE MEN. 

" Don't cry, mein Vater ! we are all so good, we did 
our lessons without you, and Franz was the master." 

Mr. Bhaer looked up then, tried to smile, and said in 
a grateful tone that made the lads feel like saints, " I 
thank you very much, my boys. It was a beautiful 
way to help and comfort me. I shall not forget it, I 
assure you." 

" Franz proposed it, and was a first-rate master, too,''" 
said Nat ; and the others gave a murmur of assent most 
gratifying to the young dominie. 

Mr. Bhaer put Rob down, and, standing up, put his 
arm round his tall nephew's shoulder, as he said, with a 
look of genuine pleasure, 

" This makes my hard day easier, and gives me con- 
fidence in you all. I am needed there in town, and 
must leave you for some hours. I thought to give you 
a holiday, or send some of you home, but if you like to 
stay and go on as you have begun, I shall be glad and 
proud of my good boys." 

"We'll stay.;" " We'd rather;" "Franz can see to 
us ; " cried several, delighted with the confidence shown 
in them. 

" Isn't Marmar coming home ? " asked Rob, wistfully ; 
for home without "Marmar" was the world without 
the sun to him. 

" We shall both come to-night ; but dear Aunt Meg 
needs Mother more than you do now, and I know you 
like to lend her for a little while." 

" Well, I will ; but Teddy 's been crying for her, 
and he slapped Nursey, and was dreadful naughty," 
answered Rob, as if the news might bring mother 
home. 



JOHN BEOOKE. 821 

" Where is my little man ? " asked Mr. Bhaer. 

" Dan took him out, to keep him quiet. He 's all 
right now," said Franz, pointing to the window, through 
which they could see Dan drawing baby in his little 
wagon, with the dogs frolicking about him. 

" I won't see him, it would only upset him again ; but 
tell Dan I leave Teddy in his care. You older boys I 
trust to manage yourselves for a day. Franz will direct 
you, and Silas is here to oversee matters. So good-by 
till to-night." 

" Just tell me a word about Uncle John," said Emil, 
detaining Mr. Bhaer, as he was about hurrying away again. 

" He was only ill a few hours, and died as he has 
lived, so cheerfully, so peacefully, that it seems a sin to 
mar the beauty of it with any violent or selfish grief. 
We were in time to say good-by ; and Daisy and Demi 
were in his arms as he fell asleep on Aunt Meg's breast. 
No more now, I cannot bear it," and Mr. Bhaer went 
hastily away quite bowed with grief, for in John Brooke 
he had lost both friend and brother, and there was no 
one left to take his place. 

All that day the house was very still ; the small boys 
played quietly in the nursery ; the others, feeling as if 
Sunday had come in the middle of the week, spent it 
in walking, sitting in the willow, or among their pets, 
all talking much of "Uncle John," and feeling that 
something gentle, just, and strong, had gone out of their 
little world, leaving a sense of loss that deepened every 
hour. At dusk, Mr. and Mrs. Bhaer came home alone, 
for Demi and Daisy were their mother's best comfort 
now, and could not leave her. Poor Mrs. Jo seemed 
i^uite spent, and evidently needed the same sort of com- 

21 



322 LITTLE MEN. 

fort, for her first words, as she came up the stairs, were, 
"Where is my baby?" 

" Here I is," answered a little voice, as Dan put Teddy 
into her arms, adding, as she hugged him close, "My 
Danny tooked tare of me all day, and I was dood." 

Mrs. Jo turned to thank the faithful nurse, but Dan 
was waving; off the bovs, who had gathered m the hall 

O / O 

to meet her, and was saying, in a low voice, " Keep back ; 
she don't want to be bothered with us now." 

"No, don't Keep back. I want you all. Come in 
and see me, my boys. I've neglected you all day;" 
and Mrs. Jo held out her hands to them as thev gathered 

*f O 

round and escorted her into her own room, saying little, 
but expressing much by affectionate looks and clumsy 
little efforts to show their sorrow and sympathy. 

" I am so tired, I will lie here and cuddle Teddy, and 
you shall bring me in some tea," she said, trying to 
speak cheerfully for their sakes. 

A general stampede into the dining-room followed, 
and the supper-table would have been ravaged if Mr, 
Bhaer had not interfered. It was agreed that one squad 
ehould carry in the mother's tea, and another bring it 
out. The four nearest and dearest claimed the first 
honor, so Franz bore the teapot, Emil the bread, Rob 
the milk, and Teddy insisted on earning the sugar- 

V * ^7 ^7 

basin, which was lighter by several lumps when it ar- 
rived than when it started. Some women might have 

O 

found it annoying at such a time to have boys creaking 
m and out, upsetting cups and rattling spoons in violent 
efforts to be quiet and helpful ; but it suited Mrs. Jo, 
because just then her heart was very tender ; and remem- 
bering that many ol ner ooys were fatherless or mother- 
less., she yearned over them, and found comfort in theii 



JOHN BROOKE. 323 

blundering affection. It was the sort of food that did 
her more good than the very thick bread-and-butter 
that they gave her, and the rough Commodore's broken 
whisper 

" Bear up, Aunty, it 's a hard blow ; but we '11 weather 
it somehow," cheered her more than the sloppy cup he 
brought her, full of tea as bitter as if some salt tear of" 
his own had dropped into it on the way. When supper 
was over, a second deputation removed the tray ; and 
Dan said, holding out his arms for sleepy little Teddy, 

" Let me put him to bed, you 're so tired, Mother." 

" Will you go with him, lovey ? " asked Mrs. Jo of 
her small lord and master, who lay on her arm among 
the sofa-pillows. 

" Torse I will ; " and he was proudly carried off by his 
faithful bearer. 

" I wish I could do something," said Nat, with a sigh, 
as Franz leaned over the sofa, and softly stroked Aunt 
Jo's hot forehead. 

" You can, dear. Go and get your violin, and play me 
the sweet little airs Uncle Teddy sent you last. Music 
will comfort me better than any thing else to-night." 

Nat flew for his fiddle, and, sitting just outside her 
door, played as he had never done before, for now his 
heart was in it, and seemed to magnetize his fingers, 
The other lads sat quietly upon the steps, keeping watch 
that no new-comer should disturb the house ; Franz 
lingered at his post ; and so, soothed, served, and guarded 
by her boys, poor Mrs. Jo slept at last, and forgot her 
sorrow for an hour. 

Two quiet days, and on the third Mr. Bhaer came in, 
just after school, with a note in his hand, looking both 
moved and pleased. 



324 LITTLE MEN. 

" I want to read you something, boys," he said ; anu 
as they stood round him he read this : 

v 

" DEAR BROTHER FRITZ, I hear that you do not 
mean to bring your flock to-day, thinking that I may 
not like it. Please do. The sio-ht of his friends will 

C_3 

help Demi through the hard hour, and I want the boys 
to hear what father says of my John. It will do them 
good, I know. If they would sing one of the sweet old 
hymns ycu have taught them so well, I should like it 
better than any other music, and feel that it was beau- 
tifully suited to the occasion. Please ask them, with 
my love. MEG." 

" Will you go ? " and Mr. Bhaer looked at the lads, 
who were greatly touched by Mrs. Brooke's kind words 
and wishes. 

"Yes," they answered, like one boy; and an hour 
later they went away with Franz to bear their part in 
John Brooke's simple funeral. 

The little house looked as quiet, sunny, and home- 
like as when Meg entered it a bride, ten years ago, only 
then it was early summer, and roses blossomed every- 
where ; now it was early autumn, and dead leaves 
rustled softly down, leaving the branches bare. The 
bride was a widow now ; but the same beautiful serenity 
shone in her face, and the sweet resignation of a truly 
pious soul made her presence a consolation to those 
who came to comfort her. 

" O Meg ! how can you bear it so ? " whispered Jo, 
as she met them at the door with a smile of welcome, 
and no change in her gentle manner, except more 
gentleness. 

" Dear Jo, the love that has blest me for ten happy 



JOHN BROOKE. 325 

years supports me still. It could not die, and John is 
more my own than ever," whispered Meg ; and in her 
eyes the tender trust was so beautiful and bright, that 
Jo believed her, and thanked God for the immortality 
of love like hers. 

They were all there father and mother, Uncle 
Teddy, and Aunt Amy, old Mr. Laurence, white-haired 
and feeble now, Mr. and Mrs. Bhaer, with their flock, 
and many friends, come to do honor to the dead. One 
would have said that modest John Brooke, in his busy, 
quiet, humble life, had had little time to make friends ; 
but now they seemed to start up everywhere, old and 
young, rich and poor, high and low; for all uncon- 
sciously his influence had made itself widely felt, his 
virtues were remembered, and his hidden charities rose 
up to bless him. The group about his coffin was a far 
more eloquent eulogy than any Mr. March could utter. 
There were the rich men whom he had served faithfully 
for years ; the poor old women whom he cherished with 
his little store, in memory of his mother; the wife to 
whom he had given such happiness that death could 
not mar it utterly ; the brothers and sisters in whose 
hearts he had made a place for ever ; the little son and 
daughter, who already felt the loss of his strong arm 
and tender voice ; the young children, sobbing for their 
kindest playmate, and the tall lads, watching with 
softened faces a scene which they never could forget, 
A very simple service, and very short ; for the fatherly 
voice that had faltered in the marriage-sacrament now 
failed entirely as Mr. March endeavored to pay his 
tribute of reverence and love to the son whom he most 
honored. Nothing but the soft coo of Baby Josy's 
voice up-stairs broke the long hush that followed the 



326 LITTLE MEN. 

last Amen, till, at a sign from Mr. Bhaer, the well-trained 
boyish voices broke out in a hymn, so full of lofty 
cheer, that one by one all joined in it, singing with full 
hearts, and finding their troubled spirits lifted into 
peace on the wings of that brave, sweet psalm. 

As Meg listened, she felt that she had done well ; for 
not only did the moment comfort her with the assur- 
ance that John's last lullaby was sung by the young 
voices he loved so well, but in the faces of the boys 
she saw that they had caught a glimpse of the beauty 
of virtue in its most impressive form, and that the 
memory of the good man lying dead before them would 
live long and helpfully in their remembrance. Daisy's 
head lay in her lap, and Demi held her hand, looking 
often at her, with eyes so like his father's, and a little 
gesture that seemed to say, " Don't be troubled, mother ; 
I am here ; " and all about her were friends to lean 
upon and love ; so patient, pious Meg put by her heavy 
grief, feeling that her best help would be to live for 
others, as her John had done. 

That evening, as the Plumfield boys sat on the steps, 
as usual, in the mild September moonlight, they naturally 
fell to talking of the event of the day. 

Emil began by breaking out, in his impetuous way, 
" Uncle Fritz is the wisest, and Uncle Laurie the jolli- 
est, but Uncle John was the best ; and I 'd rather be 
like him than any man I ever saw." 

" So would I. Did you hear what those gentlemen 
said to Grandpa to-day? I would like to have that 
said of me when I was dead ; " and Franz felt with 
regret that he had not appreciated Uncle John enough. 

" What did they say ? " asked Jack, who had been 
much impressed by the scenes of the day. 



JOHN BROOKE. 827 

" Why, one of the partners of Mr. Laurence, where 
Uncle John has been ever so long, was saying that he 
was conscientious almost to a fault as a business man, 
and above reproach in all things. Another gentleman 
said no money could repay the fidelity and honesty 
with which Uncle John had served him, and then 
Grandpa told them the best of all. Uncle John once 
had a place in the office of a man who cheated, and 
when this man wanted uncle to help him do it, uncle 
wouldn't, though he was ofiered a big salary. The man 
was angry and said, ' You will never get on in business 
with such strict principles ; ' and uncle answered back, 
* I never will try to get on without them,' and left the 
place for a much harder and poorer one." 

" Good ! " cried several of the boys warmly, for they 
were in the mood to understand and value the little 
stovy as never before. 

" He wasn't rich, was he ? " asked Jack. 

No." 

*' He never did any thing to make a stir in the world, 
did he?" 

No." 

" He was only good ? " 

" That 's all ; " and Franz found himself wishing that 
Uncle John had done something to boast of, for it was 
evident that Jack was disappointed by his replies. 

" Only good. That is all and every thing," said Mr. 
Bhaer, who had overheard the last few words, and 
guessed what was going on in the minds of the lads. 

" Let me tell you a little about John Brooke, and you 
will see why men honor him, and why he was satisfied 
to be good rather than rich or famous. He simply did 
his duty in all things, and did it so cheerfully, so faith- 



32? LITTLE J 

folly, that it kept him patient, brave, and happy through 
verry and loneliness and years of hard work. He 
was a srood son, and gave up his own plans to stay and 
live with his mother while she needed him. He was o 
eood friend, and taught Laurie much beside his Greek 

* 

and Latin, did it unconsciously, perhaps, by showing 
him an example of an upright man. He was a faithful 
servant, and made himself so valuable to those who 
employed him that they will find it hard to fill his 
place. He was a good husband and father, so tender, 
wise, and thoughtful, that Laurie and I learned much 
of him, and only knew how well he loved his family, 
when we discovered all he had done for them, unsus- 
pected and unassiste ..' 

Mr. Bhaer stopped a minute, and the boys sat like 
statues in the moonlight until he went on a grain, in a 

^ 

subdued, but earnest voice : - As he lav dvinsr, I said 

s_ 

to him, * Have no care for Meg and the little ones ; I will 
see that they never want.' Then he smiled and pressed 
mv hand, and answered, in his cheerful wav, ' Xo need 

* * ' 

of that ; I have cared for them.' And so he had. for 
when we looked among his papers, all was in order, not 
a. debt remained ; and safely put away was enough to 
keep Meg comfortable and independent. Then we 
knew why he had lived so plainly, denied himself so 
many pleasures, except that of charity, and worked so 
hard that I fear he shortened his rood life. He never 
asked help for himself, though often for others, but bore 
his own burden and worked out his own task bravely 
and quietly. Xo one can say a word of complaint 
against him. so iust and generous and kind was he ; 

* . *_ 

and now. when he is gone, all find so much to love and 
praise and honor, that I am proud to have been his 



JOES BROOKE. 329 

friend, and would rather leave my children the legacy 
he leaves his than the largest fortune ever made. Y 
Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found 
the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and 
money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of 
this world with us. Remember that, my b-:;-> : and if 
you want to earn respect and confidence and love 
follow in the footsteps of John Brooke.* 7 

When Demi returned to school, after some weeks at 
home, he seemed to have recovered from his loss with 
the blessed elasticity of childhood, and so he had in a 

* 

measure ; but he did not forget, for his was a nature 
into which things sank deeply, to be pondered over, and 
absorbed into the soil where the small virtues were 
growing fast. He played and studied, worked and sang, 
just as before, and few suspected any Change ; but there 
was one and Aunt Jo saw it for she watched over 
the boy with her whole heart, trying to fill John's place 
in her poor way. He seldom spoke of his loss, but 
Aunt Jo often heard a stifled sobbing in the little bed 
at night ; and when she went to comfort him, all his cry 
was, t; I want my father ! oh, I want my father ! " for 
the tie between the two had been a very tender one, 
and ihe child's heart bled when it was broken. But 
time was kind to him, and slowly he came to feel that 



father was not lost, only invisible for a while, and sure 
to be found again, well and strong and fond as ever, 
even though his little son should see the purple asters 
blossom on his grave manv. manv times before thev 

/ * 

met. To this belief Demi held fast, and in it found 
both help and comfort, because it led him unconsciously 
through a tender lonsdncr for the father whom he had 
seen to a childlike trust in the Father whom he had not 



330 LITTLE MEN. 

seen. Both were in heaven, and he prayed to both, 
trying to be good for love of them. 

The outward change corresponded to the inward, for 
in those few weeks Demi seemed to have grown tall, 
and began to drop his childish plays, not as if ashamed 
of them, as some boys do, but as if he had outgrown 
them, and wanted something manlier. He took to the 
hated arithmetic, and held on so steadilv that his uncle 

tt 

was charmed, though he could not understand the 
whim, until Demi said 

" I am going to be a bookkeeper when I grow up, 
like papa, and I must know about figures and things^ 
else I can't have nice, neat ledgers like his." 

At another time he came to his aunt with a very 
serious face, and said 

" What can a small boy do to earn money ? " 

" Why do you ask, my deary ? " 

" My father told me to take care of mother and the 
little girls, and I want to, but I don't know how to 
begin." 

" He did not mean now, Demi, but by and by, when 
you are large." 

" But I wish to begin now, if I can, because I think I 
ought to make some money to buy things for the 
family. I am ten, and other boys no bigger than I earn 
pennies sometimes." 

" Well, then, suppose you rake up all the dead leaves 
and cover the strawberry bed. I '11 pay you a dollar 
for the job," said Aunt Jo. 

" Isn't that a great deal ? I could do it in one day. 
You must be fair, and not pay too much, because I 
Want to truly earn it." 

" My little John, I will be fair, and not pay a penny 



JOHN BROOKE. 331 

too much. Don't work too hard ; and when that ia 
done I will have something else for you to do," said 
Mrs. Jo, much touched by his desire to help, and his 
sense of justice, so like his scrupulous father. 

When the leaves were done, many barrowloads of 
chips were wheeled from the wood to the shed, and 
another dollar earned. Then Demi helped cover the 
school-books, working in the evenings, under Franz's 
direction, tugging patiently away at each book, letting 
no one help, and receiving his wages with such satis- 
faction that the dingy bills became quite glorified in his 
sight. 

" Now, I have a dollar for each of them, and I should 
like to take my money to mother all myself, so she can 
see that I have minded my father." 

So Demi made a duteous pilgrimage to his mother, 
who received his little earnings as a treasure of great 
worth, and would have kept it untouched, if Demi 
had not begged her to buy some useful thing for herself 
and the women-children, whom he felt were left to his 
care. 

This made him very happy, and, though he often 
forgot his responsibilities for a time, the desire to help 
was still there, strengthening with his years. He 
always uttered the words " my father " with an air of 
gentle pride, and often said, as if he claimed a title full 
of honor, " Don't call me Demi any more. I am John 
Brooke now." So, strengthened by a purpose and a 
hope, the little lad of ten bravely began the world, and 
entered into his inheritance, the memory of a wise 
and tender father, the legacy of an honest name 



CHAPTER XX. 
ROUND THE FIRE. 

WITH the October frosts came the cheery fires in 
the great fireplaces ; and Demi's dry pine-chips 
helped Dan's oak-knots to blaze royally, and go roaring 
up the chimney with a jolly sound. All were glad to 
gather round the hearth, as the evenings grew longer, 
to play games, read, or lay plans for the winter. But 
the favorite amusement was story-telling, and Mr. and 
Mrs. Bhaer were expected to have a store of lively 
tales always on hand. Their supply occasionally gave 
out, and then the boys were thrown upon their own 
resources, which were not always successful. Ghost- 
parties were the rage at one time ; for the fun of the 
thing consisted in putting out the lights, letting the fire 
die down, and then sitting in the dark, and telling the 
most awful tales they could invent. As this resulted 
in scares of all sorts among the boys, Tommy's walking 
in his sleep on the shed roof, and a general state of 
nervousness in the little ones, it was forbidden, and 
they fell back on more harmless amusements. 

One evening, when the small boys were snugly tucked 
In bed. and the older lads were lounging about the 



ROUND THE FIEE. 333 

school-room fire, trying to decide what they should 
do, Demi suggested a new way of settling the ques- 
tion. 

Seizing the hearth-brush, he marched up and down 
the room, saying, " Row, row, row ; " and when the 
boys, laughing and pushing, had got into line, he said, 
" Now, I '11 give you two minutes to think of a play." 
Franz was writing, and Emil reading the Life of Lord 
Nelson, and neither joined the party, but the others 
thought hard, and when the time was up were ready 
to reply. 

" Now. Tom ! " and the poker softly rapped him on 
the head. 

" Blind-man's Buff." 

Jack ! " 

" Commerce ; a good round game, and have cents for 
the pool." 

"Uncle forbids our playing for money. Dan, what 
do you want ? " 

"Let's have a battle between the Greeks and 
Romans." 

" Stuffy ? " 

" Roast apples, pop corn, and crack nuts." 

" Good ! good ! " cried several ; and when the vote 
was taken, Stuffy's proposal carried the day. 

Some went to the cellar for apples, some to the 
garret for nuts, and others looked up the popper and 
the corn. 

" We had better ask the girls to come in, hadn't we ? " 
said Demi, in a sudden fit of politeness. 

"Daisy pricks chestnuts beautifully," put in Nat, 
who wanted his little friend to share the fun. 



334 LITTLE MEN. 

"Nan pops corn tip-top, we must have her," added 
Tommy. 

" Bring in your sweethearts then, we don't mind," said 
Jack, who laughed at the innocent regard the little 
people had for one another. 

"You shan't call my sister a sweetheart; it is so 
eilly ! " cried Demi, in a way that made Jack laugh. 

" She is Nat's darling, isn't she, old chirper?" 

" Yes, if Demi don't mind. I can't help being fond 
of her, she is so good to me," answered Nat, with bash- 
ful earnestness, for Jack's rough ways disturbed him. 

"Nan is my sweetheart, and I shall marry her in 
about a year, so don't you get in the way, any of you," 
said Tommy, stoutly ; for he and Nan had settled their 
future, child-fashion, and were to live in the willow, 
lower down a basket for food, and do other charmingly 
impossible things. 

Demi was quenched by the decision of Bangs, who 
took him by the arm and walked him off to get the 
ladies. Nan and Daisy were sewing with Aunt Jo on 
certain small garments for Mrs. Carney's newest baby. 

"Please, ma'am, could you lend us the girls for a 
little while? we'll be very careful of them," said 
Tommy, winking one eye to express apples, snapping 
his fingers to signify pop-corn, and gnashing his teeth 
to convey the idea of nut-cracking. 

The girls understood this pantomime at once, and be- 
gan to pull off their thimbles before Mrs. Jo could decide 
whether Tommy was going into convulsions or was 
brewing some unusual piece of mischief. Demi ex- 
plained with elaboration, permission was readily granted, 
and the boys departed with their prize. 



ROUND THE FIRE. 335 

" Don't you speak to Jack," whispered Tommy, as he 
and Nan promenaded down the hall to get a fork to 
prick the apples. 

Why not ? " 

" He laughs at me, so I don't wish you to have any 
thing to do with him." 

" Shall, it' I like," said Nan, promptly resenting this 
premature assumption of authority on the part of her 
lord. 

" Then I won't have you for my sweetheart." 

" I don't care." 

" Why, Nan, I thought you were fond of me ! " and 
Tommy's voice was full of tender reproach. 

" If you mind Jack's laughing I don't care for you 
one bit." 

" Then you may take back your old ring ; I won't 
wear it any longer ; " and Tommy plucked off a horse- 
hair pledge of affection which Nan had given him in 
return for one made of a lobster's feeler. 

" I shall give it to Ned," w r as her cruel reply ; for 
Ned liked Mrs. Giddy-gaddy. and had turned her 

V ^J V ' 

clothes-pins, boxes, and spools enough to set up house- 
keeping with. 

Tommy said, "Thunder-turtles!" as the only vent 
equal to the pent-up anguish of the moment, and, drop- 
ping Nan's arm, retired in high dudgeon, leaving her to 
follow with the fork, a neglect which naughty Nan 
punished by proceeding to prick his heart with jealousy 
as if it were another sort of apple. 

The hearth was swept, and the rosy Baldwins put 
down to roast. A shovel was heated, and the chestnuts 
danced merrily upon it, while the corn popped wildly 



336 LITTLE MEN. 

in its wire prison. Dan cracked his best walnuts, and 
every one chattered and laughed, while the rain beat 
on the window-pane and the wind howled round the 
house. 

" Why is Billy like this nut ? " asked Emil, who wag 
frequently inspired with bad conundrums. 

" Because he is cracked," answered Ned. 

" That 's not fair ; you mustn't make fun of Billy, be= 
cause he can't hit back again. It 's mean," cried Dan, 
smashing a nut wrathfully. 

"To what family of insects does Blake belong?" 
asked peacemaker Franz, seeing that Emil looked 
ashamed and Dan lowering. 

" Gnats," answered Jack. 

" Why is Daisy like a bee ?" cried Nat, who had been 
Wrapt in thought for several minutes. 

" Because she is queen of the hive," said Dan. 

" No." 

" Because she is sweet." 

"Bees are not sweet." 

" Give it up." 

"Because she makes sweet things, is always busy, 
and likes flowers," said Nat, piling up his boyish com- 
pliments till Daisy blushed like a rosy clover. 

"Why is Nan like a hornet?" demanded Tommy, 
glowering at her, and adding, without giving any one 
time to answer, "Because she isrft sweet, makes a 
great buzzing about nothing, and stings like fury." 

" Tommy's mad, and I 'm glad," cried Ned, as Nan 
tossed her head and answered quickly 

"What thing in the china-closet is Tom like?" 

"A pepper pot," answered Ned, giving Nan a nut 



ROUND THE FIRE. 337 

meat with a tantalizing laugh that made Tommy feel 
as if he would like to bounce up like a hot chestnut 
and hit somebody. 

Seeing that ill-humor was getting the better of the 
small supply of wit in the company, Franz cast himself 
into the breach again. 

" Let 's make a law that the first person who comes 
.nto the room shall tell us a story. No matter who it is, 
he must do it, and it will be fun to see who comes first." 

The others agreed, and did not have to wait long, for 
a heavy step soon came clumping through the hall, and 
Silas appeared, bearing an armful of wood. He was 
greeted by a general shout, and stood staring about 
him with a bewildered grin on his big red face, till 
Franz explained the joke. 

" Sho ! I can't tell a story," he said, putting down his 
load and preparing to leave the room. But the boys fell 
upon him, forced him into a seat, and held him there, 
laughing and clamoring for their story, till the good- 
natured giant was overpowered. 

"I don't know but jest one story, and that's about a 
horse," he said, much flattered by the reception he 
received. 

" Tell it ! tell it ! " cried the boys. 

"Wai," began Silas, tipping his chair back against the 
wall, and putting his thumbs in the arm-holes of his 
waistcoat, " I jined a cavalry regiment durin' the war, 
and sec a consid'able amount of fightin'. My horse, 
Major, was a fust-rate animal, and I was as fond on him 

' ' 

as of he 'd ben a human critter. He warn't harnsome, 
but he was the best-tempered, stiddyest, lovenest brute 
I ever see. The fust battle we went into, he give me a 

22 



338 LITTLE MEN. 

lesson that I didn't forgit in a hurry, and I '11 tell you 
how it was. It ain't no use tryin' to picter the noise and 
hurry, and general horridness of a battle to you young 
fellers, for I ain't no words to do it in ; but I'm free to 
confess that I got so sort of confused and upset at the 
fust on it, that I didn't know what I was about. We 
was ordered to charge, and went ahead like good ones, 
never stoppin' to pick up them that went down in the 
scrimmage. I got a shot in the arm, and was pitched 
out of the saddle don't know how, but there I was 
left behind with two or three others, dead and wounded, 
for the rest went on, as I say. Wai, I picked myself up 
and looked round for Major, feeling as ef I'd had about 
enough for that spell. I did n't see him nowhere, and 
was kinder walking back to camp, when I heard a 
whinny that sounded nateral. I looked round, and there 
was Major stopping for me a long way off, and lookin' 
as ef he didn't understand why I was loiterin' behind. 
I whistled, and he trotted up to me as I 'd trained him 
to do. I mounted as well as I could with my left arm 
bleedin' and was for going on to camp, for I declare I felt 
as sick and wimbly as a woman ; folks often do in their 
fust battle. But, no, sir! Major was the bravest of the 
two, and he wouldn't go, not a peg ; he jest rared up, 
and danced, and snorted, and acted as ef the smell of 
powder and the noise had drove him half wild. I done 
my best, but he wouldn't give in, so I did ; and what do 
you think that plucky brute done ? He wheeled slap 
round, and galloped back like a hurricane, right into 
the thickest of the scrimmage ! " 

" Good for him ! r cried Dan excitedly, while the 
other boys forgot apples and nuts in their interest. 



HOUND THE FIRE. 339 

" I wish I may die ef I warn't ashamed of myself," 
continued Silas, warming up at the recollection of that 
day. " I was as mad as a hornet, and I forgot my 
waound, and jest pitched in, rampagin' raound like fury 
till there come a shell into the midst of us, and in bustin' 
knocked a lot of us flat. I didn't know nothin' for a spell, 
and when I come-to, the fight was over jest there, and I 
found myself layin' by a wall with poor Major long-side 
wuss Abounded than I was. My leg was broke, and I 
had a ball in my shoulder, but he, poor old feller ! was 
all tore in the side with a piece of that blasted shell." 

"O Silas! what did you do ?" cried Nan, pressing 
close to him w-ith a face full of eager sympathy and 
interest. 

" I dragged myself nigher, and tried to stop the 
bleedin' with sech rags as I could tear off of me with 
one hand. But it warn't no use, and he lay moanin' 
with horrid pain, and lookin' at me with them lovin' 
eyes of his, till I thought I couldn't bear it. I give 
him all the help I could, and when the sun got hotter 
and hotter, and he began to lap out his tongue, I tried 
to get to a brook that was a good piece aw^ay, but I 
couldn't do it, being stiff and faint, so I give it up and 
fanned him with my hat. Now you listen to this, and 
when you hear folks comin' down on the rebs, you 
jest remember what one on 'em did, and give him the 
credit of it. A poor feller in gray laid not fur off, shot 
through the lungs, and dying fast. I'd offered him my 
handkerchief to keep the sun off his face, and he'd 
thanked me kindly, for in sech times as that men don't 
stop to think on which side they belong, but jest buckle- 
to and help one another. When he see me mournin' 



340 LITTLE MEN. 

over Major and try in' to ease his pain, he looked up with 
his face all damp and white with sufferin', and sez he, 
' There 's water in my canteen ; take it, for it can't help 
me ' and he fluns: it to me. I couldn't have took it ef I 

O 

hadn't had a little brandy in a pocket flask, and I made 
him drink it. It done him good, and I felt as much set 
up as if I'd drunk it myself. It's surprisin' the good 
sech little things do folks sometimes ; " and Silas paused 
as if he felt ao-ain the comfort of that moment when 

O 

lie and his enemy forgot their feud, and helped one 
another like brothers. 

" Tell about Major," cried the boys, impatient for the 
catastrophe. 

" I poured the water over his poor pantin' tongue, and 
ef ever a dumb critter looked grateful, he did then. 
But it warn't of much use, for the dreadful waound kep 
on tormentin' him, till I couldn't bear it any longer. It 
was hard, but I done it in mercy, and I know he forgive 



me." 



"What did you do?" asked Emil, as Silas stopped 
abruptly with a loud "hem," and a look in his rough 
face that made Daisy go and stand by him with her 
little hand on his knee. 

"I shot him." 

Quite a thrill went through the listeners as Silas said 
that, for Major seemed a hero in their eyes, and his 
tragic end roused all their sympathy. 

" Yes, I shot him, and put him out of his misery. I 
patted him fust, and said, ' Good-by ; ' then I laid his 
head easy on the grass, give a last look into his lovin' 
eyes, and sent a bullet through his head. He hardly 
stirred, I aimed so true, and when I see him quite still, 



BOUND THE FIRE. 341 

with no more moanin' and pain, I was glad, and yet 
wal, I don't know as I need be ashamed on't I jest 
put my arms raound his neck and boo-hooed like a great 
baby. Sho! I didn't know I was such a fool;" and 
Silas drew his sleeve across his eyes, as mii^-h touched 
by Daisy's sob, as by the memory of faithful Major. 

No one spoke for a minute, because the boys were a^ 
quick to feel the pathos of the little story as tender* 
hearted Daisy, though they did not show it by crying. 

"I'd like a horse like that," said Dan, half-aloud. 

" Did the rebel man die too ? " asked Nan, anxiously. 

"Not then. We laid there all day, and at night 
some of our fellers came to look after the missing ones. 
They nat'rally wanted to take me fust, but I knew I 
could wait, and the rebel had but one chance, maybe, 
so I made them carry him off right away. He had jest 
strength enough to hold out his hand to me and say, 
4 Thanky, comrade ! ' and them was the last words he 
spoke, for he died an hour after he got to the hospital- 
tent." 

"How glad you must .have been that you were kind 
to him ! " said Demi, who was deeply impressed by this 
story. 

" Wal, I did take comfort thinkin' of it, as I laid there 
alone for a number of hours with my head on Major's 
neck, and see the moon come up. I 'd like to have buried 
the poor beast decent, but it warn't possible ; so I cut 
off a bit of his mane, and I've kep it ever sence. Want 
to see it, sissy ? " 

" Oh, yes, pkase," answered Daisy, wiping away her 
tears to look. 

Silas took out an old " wallet," as he called his 



342 LITTLE MEN. 

pocket-book, and produced from an inner fold a bit of 
brown paper, in which was a rough lock of white horse- 
hair. The children looked at it silently, as it lay in the 
broad palm, and no one found any thing to ridicule in 
the love Silas bore his good horse Major. 

" That is a sweet story, and I like it, though it did 
make me cry. Thank you very much, Si," and Daisy 
helped him fold and put away his little relic ; while 
Nan stuffed a handful of pop-corn into his pocket, and 
the boys loudly expressed their flattering opinions of his 
story, feeling that there had been two heroes in it. 

He departed, quite overcome by his honors, and the 
little conspirators talked the tale over while they waited 
for their next victim. It was Mrs. Jo, who came in to 
measure Nan for some new pinafores she was making 
for her. They let her get well in, and then pounced 
upon her, telling her the law, and demanding the story. 
Mrs. Jo was very much amused at the new trap, and 
consented at once, for the sound of the happy voices had 
been coming across the hall so pleasantly that she quite 
longed to join them, and forget her own anxious 
thoughts of Sister Meg. 

"Am I the first mouse you have caught, you sly 
pussies-in-boots ? " she asked, as she was conducted to 
the big chair, supplied with refreshments, and eur 
rounded by a flock of merry-faced listeners. 

They told her about Silas and his contribution, and 
she slapped her forehead in despair, for she was quite 
at her wits' end, being called upon so unexpectedly fof 
a bran new tale. 

" What shall I tell about ? " she said. 

" Boys," was the general answer. 



ROUND THE FIRE. 343 

Have a party in it," said Daisy. 

" And something good to eat," added Stuffy. 

"That reminds me of a story, written years ago by a 
dear old lady. I used to be very fond of it, and I fancy 
you will like it, for it has both boys, and ' something 
good to eat' in it." 

" What is it called ? " asked Demi. 

" ' The Suspected Boy.' " 

Nat looked up from the nuts h was picking, and 
Mrs. Jo smiled at him, guessing what was in his 
mind. 

" Miss Crane, kept a school for boys in a quiet little 
town, and a very good school it was., of the old-fash- 
ioned sort. Six boys lived in her house, and four or 
five more came in from the town. Among those who 
lived with her was one named Lewis White. Lewis 
was not a bad bov, but rather timid, and now and then 

/ * 

he told a lie. One day a neighbor sent Miss Crane a 
basket of gooseberries. There were not enough to go 
round, so kind Miss Crane, who liked to please her 
boys, went to work and made a dozen nice little goose- 
berry tarts. 

" I 'd like to try gooseberry tarts. I wonder if she 
made them as I do my raspberry ones," said Daisy, 
whose interest in cooking had lately revived. 

" Hush," said Nat, tucking a plump pop-corn into her 
mouth to silence her, for he felt a peculiar interest in 
this tale, and thought it opened well. 

" When the tarts were done, Miss Crane put them 
away in the best parlor closet and said not a word about 
them, for she wanted to surprise the boys at tea-time. 
When the minute came and all were seated at table, she 



344 LITTLE MEN. 

went to get her tarts, but came back looking much 
troubled, for what do you think had happened ? " 

" Somebody had hooked them ! " cried Ned. 

" No, there they were, but some one had stolen all 
the fruit out of them by lifting up the upper crust and 
then putting it down after tho gooseberry had been 
scraped out." 

" What a mean trick ! " and Nan looked at Tommy, 
as if to imply that he would do the same. 

" When she told the boys her plan and showed them 
the poor little patties all robbed of their sweetness, 
the boys were much grieved and disappointed, and all 
declared that they knew nothing about the matter, 
' Perhaps the rats did it,' said Lewis, who was among the 
loudest to deny any knowledge of the tarts. ' No, rats 
would have nibbled crust and all, and never lifted it up 
and scooped out the fruit. Hands did that,' said Miss 
Crane, who was more troubled about the lie that some 
one must have told than about her lost patties. Well, 
they had supper and went to bed, but in the night Miss 
Crane heard some one groaning, and going to see who 
it was she found Lewis in great pain. He had eA'idently 
eaten something that disagreed with him, and was so 
sick that Miss Crane was alarmed, and was going to 
send for the doctor, when Lewis moaned out, ' It 's the 
gooseberries ; I ate them, and I must tell before I die,' 
for the thought of a doctor frightened him. ' If that is 
all, I '11 give you an emetic and you will soon get over 
it,' said Miss Crane. So Lewis had a good dose, and 
by morning was quite comfortable. ' Oh, don't tell the 
boys ; they will laugh at me so,' begged the invalid. 
Kind Miss Crane promised not to, but Sally, the girl, 



ROUND THE FIRE. 345 

told the story, and poor Lewis had no peace for a long 
time. His mates called him Old Gooseberry, and were 
never tired of asking him the price of tarts." 

" Served him right," said Emil. 

" Badness always gets found out," added Demi, 
morally. 

" No, it don't," muttered Jack, who was tending the 
apples with great devotion, so that he might keep his 
back to the rest and account for his red face. 

"Is that all?" asked Dan. 

" No, that is only the first part ; the second part ia 
more interesting. Some time after this a peddler came 
by one day and stopped to show his things to the boys, 
several of whom bought pocket-combs, jew's-harps, and 
various trifles of that sort. Among the knives was a 
little white-handled penknife that Lewis wanted very 
much, but he had spent all his pocket-money, and no 
one had any to lend him. He held the knife in hia 
hand, admiring and longing for it, till the man packed 
up his goods to go, then he reluctantly laid it down, 
and the man went on his way. The next day, however, 
the peddler returned to say that he could not find that 
very knife, and thought he must have left it at Miss 
Crane's. It was a very nice one with a pearl handle, 
and he could not afford to lose it. Every one looked, 
and every one declared they knew nothing about it. 
This young gentleman had it last, and seemed to 
want it very much. ' Are you quite sure you put it 
back ? ' said the man to Lewis, who was much troubled 
at the loss, and vowed over and over again that he did 
return it. His denials seemed to do no good, however, 
for every one was sure he had taken it, and after a 



346 LITTLE MEN. 

stormy scene Miss Crane paid for it, and the man went 
grumbling away." 

" Did Lewis have it ? " cried Nat, much excited. 

" You will see. Now poor Lewis had another trial 
to bear, for the boys were constantly saying, ' Lend me 
your pearl-handled knife, Gooseberry,' and things of 
that sort, till Lewis was so unhappy he begged to be 
sent home. Miss Crane did her best to keep the boys 
quiet, but it was hard work, for they would tease, and 
she could not be with them all the time. That is one 
of the hardest things to teach boys ; they won't ' hit a 
fellow when he is down,' as they say, but they will tor- 
ment him in little ways till he would thank them to 
fight it out all round." 

" I know that," said Dan. 

" So do I," added Nat, softly. 

Jack said nothing, but he quite agreed ; for he knew 
that the elder boys despised him, and let him alone for 
that very reason. 

" Do go on about poor Lewis, Aunt Jo. I don't be- 
lieve he took the knife, but I want to be sure," said 
Daisy, in great anxiety. 

" Well, week after week went on and the matter was 
not cleared up. The boys avoided Lewis, and he, poor 
fellow, was almost sick with the trouble he had brought 
upon himself. He resolved never to tell another lie, 
and tried so hard that Miss Crane pitied and helped 
him, and really came at last to believe that he did not 
take the knife. Two months after the peddler's first 
visit, he came again, and the first thing he said was 

" ' Well, ma'am, I found that knife after all. It had 
slipped behind the lining of my valise, and fell out the 



SOUND THE FIRE. 347 

other day when I was putting in a new stock of goods. 
I thought I 'd call and let you know, as you paid for it, 
and maybe would liko it, so here it is.' 

" The boys had all gathered round, and at these words 
they felt much ashamed, and begged Lewis' pardon so 
heartily that he could not refuse to give it. Miss Crane 
presented the knife to him, and he kept it many years 
to remind him of the fault that had brought him so 
much trouble." 

" I wonder why it is that things you eat on the sly 
hurt you, and don't when you eat them at table," 
observed Stuffy, thoughtfully. 

" Perhaps your conscience affects your stomach," 
eaid Mrs. Jo, smiling at his speech. . 

" He is thinking of the cucumbers," said Ned, and a 
gale of merriment followed the words, for Stuffy's last 
mishap had been a funny one. 

He ate two large cucumbers in private, felt very ill, 
and confided his anguish to Ned, imploring him to do 
something. Ned good-naturedly recommended a mus- 
tard plaster and a hot flat iron to the feet; only in 
applying these remedies he reversed the order of 
things, and put the plaster on the feet, the flat iron on 
the stomach, and poor Stuffy was found in the barn 
with blistered soles and a scorched jacket. 

" Suppose you tell another story, that was such an 
interesting one," said Nat, as the laughter subsided. 

Before Mrs. Jo could refuse these insatiable Oliver 
Twists, Rob walked into the room trailing his little bed- 
cover after him, and wearing an expression of great 
sweetness as he said, steering straight to his mother as 
a sure haven of refuge, 



348 LITTLE MEN. 

"I heard a great noise, and I thought sumfin dreffle 
might have happened, so I came to see." 

"Did you think I would forget you, naughty boy?" 
asked his mother, trying to look stern. 

" No ; but I thought you 'd feel better to see me 
right here," responded the insinuating little party. 

" I had much rather see you in bed, so march straight 
up again, Robin." 

" Everybody that comes in here has to tell a story, 
and you can't, so you 'd better cut and run," said Emil. 

" Yes, I can ! I tell Teddy lots of ones, all about 
bears and moons, and little flies that say things when 
they buzz," protested Rob, bound to stay at any price. 

" Tell one now, then, right away," said Dan, prepar- 
ing to shoulder and bear him off. 

" Well, I will ; let me fink a minute," and Rob 
climbed into his mother's lap, where he was cuddled, 
with the remark 

" It is a family failing, this getting out of bed at 
wrong times. Demi used to do it ; and as for me, I 
was hopping in and out all night long. Meg used to 
think the house was on fire, and send me down to see, 
and I used to stay and enjoy myself, as you mean to, 
my bad son." 

" I Ve finked now," observed Rob, quite at his ease, 
and eager to win the entree into this delightful circle. 

Every one looked and listened with faces full of sup- 
pressed merriment as Rob, perched on his mother's 
knee and wrapped in the gay coverlet, told the follow- 
ing brief but tragic tale with an earnestness that made 
it very funny : 

** Once a lady had a million children, and one nice 



ROUND THE FIEE. 349 

little boy. She went up-stairs and said, * You mustn't 
go in the yard.' But he wented, and fell into the 
pump, and was drowned dead." 

" Is that all ? " asked Franz, as Rob paused out of 
breath with this startling beginning. 

" No, there is another piece of it," and Rob knit his 
downy eyebrows in the effort to evolve another inspira- 
tion. 

" What did the lady do when he fell into the pump ? " 
asked his mother, to help him on. 

w Oh, she pumped him up, and wrapped him in a 
newspaper, and put him on a shelf to dry for seed." 

A general explosion of laughter greeted this sur- 
prising conclusion, and Mrs. Jo patted the curly head, 
as she said, solemnly, 

" My son, you inherit your mother's gift of story- 
telling. Go where glory waits thee." 

" Now I can stay, can't I ? Wasn't it a good story ? " 
cried Rob, in high feather at his superb success. 

" You can stay till you have eaten these twelve pop- 
corns," said his mother, expecting to see them vanish 
at one mouthful. 

But Rob was a shrewd little man, and got the better 
of her by eating them one by one very slowly, and 
enjoying every minute with all his might. 

" Hadn't you better tell the other story, while you 
wait for him?" said Demi, anxious that no time should 
be lost. 

" I really have nothing but a little tale about a wood- 
box," said Mrs. Jo, seeing that Rob had still seven corns 
to eat. 

"Is there a boy in it?" 



350 LITTLE MEN. 

It is all boy." 

" Is it true ? " asked Demi. 

" Every bit of it." 

" Goody ! tell on, please." 

" James Snow and his mother lived in a little house, 
up in New Hampshire. They were poor, and James 
had to work to help his mother, but he loved books so 
well he hated work, and just wanted to sit and study 
all day long." 

" How could he ! I hate books, and like work," said 
Dan, objecting to James at the very outset. 

" It takes all sorts of people to make a world ; workers 
and students both are needed, and there is room for all. 
But I think the workers should study some, and the 
students should know how to work if necessary," 
answered Mrs. Jo, looking from Dan to Demi with 
a significant expression. 

" I 'm sure I do work," and Demi showed three small 
hard spots in his little palm, with pride. 

" And I 'm sure I study," added Dan, nodding with a 
groan toward the blackboard full of neat figures. 

" See what James did. He did not mean to be self- 
ish, but his mother was proud of him, and let him do 
as he liked, working away by herself that he might 
have books and time to read them. One autumn James 
wanted to go to school, and went to the minister to see 
if he would help him, about decent clothes and books. 
Now the minister had heard the gossip about James's 
idleness, and was not inclined to do much for him, 
thinking that a boy who neglected his mother, and 
let her slave for him, was not likely to do very well 
even at school. But the good man felt more interested 



ROUND THE FIRE. 351 

when he found how earnest James was, and being 
rather an odd man, he made this proposal to the boy, 
to try how sincere he was. 

" ' I will give you clothes and books on one condition, 
James.' 

"' What is that, sir?' and the boy brightened up at 
once. 

" ' You are to keep your mother's wood-box full all 
winter long, and do it yourself. If you fail, school 
stops.' James laughed at the queer condition and 
readily agreed to it, thinking it a very easy one. 

" He began school, and for a time got on capitally 
with the wood-box, for it was autumn, and chips and 
brush-wood were plentiful. Ho ran out morning and 
evening and got a basket full, or chopped up the cat 
sticks for the little cooking stove, and as his mother 
was careful and saving, the task was not hard. But 
in November the frost came, the days were dull and 
cold, and wood went fast. His mother bought a load 
with her own earnings, but it seemed to melt away, 
and was nearly gone, before James remembered that he 
was to get the next. Mrs. Snow was feeble and lame 
with rheumatism, and unable to work as she had done, 
so James had to put down his books, and see what he 
could do. 

" It was hard, for he was going on well, and so inter 
ested in his lessons that he hated to stop except for 
food and sleep. But he knew the minister would keep 
his word, and much against his will James set about 
earning money in his spare hours, lest the wood-box 
should get empty. He did all sorts of things, ran 
errands, took care of a neighbor's cow, helped the old 



352 LITTLE MEN. 

sexton dust and warm the church on Sundays, and in 
these ways got enough to buy fuel in small quantities. 
But it was hard work ; the days were short, the winter 
was bitterly cold, the precious time went fast, and the 
dear books were so fascinating, that it was sad to leave 
them, for dull duties that never seemed done. 

" The minister watched him quietly, and seeing that he 
was in earnest helped him without his knowledge. He 
met him often driving the wood sleds from the forest, 
where the men were chopping, and as James plodded 
beside the slow oxen, he read or studied, anxious to use 
every minute. ' The boy is worth helping, this lesson 
will do him good, and when he has learned it, I will 
give him an easier one,' said the minister to himself, 
and on Christmas eve a splendid load of wood was 
quietly dropped at the door of the little house, with a 
new saw and a bit of paper, saying only 

" 4 The Lord helps those who help themselves.' 

"Poor James expected nothing, but when he woke on 
that cold Christmas morning, he found a pair of warm 
mittens, knit by his mother, with her stiff painful 
fingers. This gift pleased him very much, but her kiss 
and tender look as she called him her ' good son,' was 
better still. In trying to keep her warm, he had warmed 
his own heart, you see, and in filling the wood-box he 
had also filled those months with duties faithfully done. 
Ho began to see this, to feel that there was something 
better than books, and to try to learn the lessons God 
set him, as well as those his school-master gave. 

" When he saw the great pile of oak and pine logs at 
his door, and read the little paper, he knew who sent it, 
and understood the minister's plan; thanked him for 



SOUND TEE FIRE. 358 

it, and fell to work with all his might. Other boys 
frolicked that day, but James sawed wood, and I think 
of all the lads in the town the happiest was the one in 
the new mittens, who whistled like a blackbird as he 
filled his mother's wood-box." 

" That 's a first rater ! r cried Dan, who enjoyed a 
simple matter-of-fact story better than the finest fairy 
tale ; I like that fellow after all." 

" I could saw wood for you, Aunt Jo ! " said Demi, 
feeling as if a new means of earning money for his 
mother was suggested by the story. 

" Tell about a bad boy. I like them best," said Nan. 

"You'd better tell about a naughty cross-patch of a 
girl," said Tommy, whose evening had been spoilt by 
Nan's unkindness. It made his apple taste bitter, his 
pop-corn was insipid, his nuts were hard to crack, and 
the sight of Ned and Nan on one bench made him 
feel his life a burden. 

But there were no more stories from Mrs. Jo, for on 
looking down at Rob he was discovered to be fast asleep 
with his last corn firmly clasped in his chubby hand. 
Bundling him up in his coverlet, his mother carried him 
away and tucked him up with no fear of his popping 
out again. 

"Now let's see who will come next," said Emil, 
setting the door temptingly ajar. 

Mary Ann passed first, and he called out to her, but 
Silas had warned her, and she only laughed and hurried 
on in spite of their enticements. Presently a door 
opened, and a strong voice was heard humming in the 

" Ich weiss nicht was soil es bedeuten 
Dass ich so traurig bin." 
23 



354 LITTLE MEN. 

" It 's Uncle Fritz ; all laugh loud and he will be sure 
to come in," said Emil. 

A wild burst of laughter followed, and in came Uccle 
Fritz, asking, " What is the joke, my lads ? " 

" Caught ! caught ! you can't go out till you Ve told 
a story," cried the boys, slamming the door. 

" So ! that is the joke then ? Well, I have n<> wish 
to go, it is so pleasant here, and I pay my forfeit at 
once," which he did by sitting down and beginning 

instantly 

" A long time ago your Grandfather, Demi, went to 
lecture in a great town, hoping to get some money for 
a home for little orphans that some good people were 
getting up. His lecture did well, and he put a consid- 
erable sum of money in his pocket, feeling very happy 
about it. As he was driving in a chaise to another 
town, he came to a lonely bit of road, late in the after- 
noon, and was just thinking what a good place it was 
for robbers when he saw a bad-looking man come out 
of the woods in front of him and go slowly along as if 
waiting till he came up. The thought of the money 
made Grandfather rather anxious, and at first he had 
a mind to turn round and drive away. But the horse 
was tired, and then he did not like to suspect the man, 
so he kept on, and Avhen he got nearer and saw how 
poor and sick and ragged the stranger looked, his 
heart reproached him, and stopping, he said in his kind 

voice 

" ' My friend, you look tired ; let me give you a lift.' 
The man seemed surprised, hesitated a minute, and 
then got in. He did not seem inclined to talk, but 
Grandfather kept on in his wise, cheerful way, speaking 



BOUND THE FIRE. 355 

of what a hard year it had been, how much the poor 
had suffered, and how difficult it was to get on some- 
times* The man slowly softened a little, and, won by 
the kind chat, told his story. How he had been sick, 
could get no work, had a family of children, and was 
almost in despair. Grandfather was so full of pity that 
he forgot his fear, and, asking the man his name, said he 
would try and get him work in the next town, as he 
had friends there. Wishing to get at pencil and paper, 
to write down the address, Grandfather took out his 
plump pocket-book, and the minute he did so, the man's 
eye was on it. Then Grandfather remembered what wag 
in it and trembled for his money, but said quietly 

" * Yes, I have a little sum here for some poor orphans, 
I wish it was my own, I would so gladly give you some 
of it. I am not rich, but I know many of the trials of 
the poor ; this five dollars is mine, and I want to give 
it to you for your children.' 

"The hard, hungry look in the man's eyes changed to 
a grateful one as he took the small sum, freely given, 
and left the orphans' money untouched. He rode on 
with Grandfather till they approached the town, then 
he asked to be set down. Grandpa shook hands with 
him, and was about to drive on, when the man said, as 
if something made him, 'I was desperate when we 
met, and I meant to rob you, but you were so kind I 
couldn't do it. God bless you, sir, for keeping me from 
it ! ' " 

" Did Grandpa ever see him again ? " asked Daisy, 
eagerly. 

" No ; but I believe the man found work, and did 
not try robbery any more." 



356 LITTLE MEN. 

" That was a curious way to treat him , I 'd have 
knocked him down," said Dan. 

" Kindness is always better than force. Try it and 
Bee," answered Mr. Bhaer, rising. 

"Tell another, please," cried Daisy. 

" You must, Aunt Jo did," added Demi. 

" Then I certainly won't, but keep my others for next 
time. Too many tales are as bad as too many bonbons. 
I have paid my forfeit and I go," and Mr. Bhaer ran 
for his life, with the whole flock in full pursuit. He 
had the start, however, and escaped safely into his 
study, leaving the boys to go rioting back again. 

They were so stirred up by the race that they could 
not settle to their former quiet, and a lively game of 
Blindman's Buff* followed, in which Tommy showed 
that he had taken the moral of the last story to heart, 
for, when he caught Nan, he whispered in her ear, 
" I 'm sorry I called you a cross-patch." 

Nan was not to be outdone in kindness, so, when 
they played " Button, button, who 's got the button ? * 
and it was her turn to go round, she said, " Hold fast 
all I give you," with such a friendly smile at Tommy, 
that he was not surprised to find the horse-hair ring in 
his hand instead of the button. He only smiled back 
at her then, but when they were going to bed, he offered 
Nan the best bite of his last apple ; she saw the ring on 
his stumpy little finger, accepted the bite, and peace 
was declared. Both were sorry for the temporary cold- 
ness, neither was ashamed to say, " I was wrong, for- 
give me," so the childish friendship remained unbroken, 
and the home in the willow lasted long, a pleasant little 
castle in the air. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

THANKSGIVING. 

THIS yearly festival was always kept at Plumfield 
in the good old-fashioned way, and nothing was 
allowed to interfere with it. For days beforehand, the 
little girls helped Asia and Mrs. Jo in store-room and 
kitchen, making pies and puddings, sorting fruit, dusting 
dishes, and being very busy and immensely important. 
The boys hovered on the outskirts of the forbidden 
ground, sniffing the savory odors, peeping in at the 
mysterious performances, and occasionally being per- 
mitted to taste some delicacy in the process of prepa- 
ration. 

Something more than usual seemed to be on foot this 

O 

year, for the girls were as busy up-stairs as down, so 
were the boys in school-room and barn, and a general 
air of bustle pervaded the house. There was a great 
hunting up of old ribbons and finery, much cutting and 
pasting of gold paper, and the most remarkable quan- 
tity of straw, gray cotton, flannel, and big black beads, 
used by Franz and Mrs. Jo. Ned hammered at strange 
machines in the workshop, Demi and Tommy went 
about murmuring to themselves as if learning some- 
thing. A fearful racket was heard in EmiTs room at 



358 LITTLE MEN. 

intervals, and peals of laughter from the nursery when 
Rob and Teddy were sent for and hidden from sight 
whole hours at a time. But the thing that puzzled Mr. 
Bhaer the most was what became of Rob's big pump- 
kin. It had been borne in triumph to the kitchen, 
where a dozen golden-tinted pies soon after appeared. 
It would not have taken more than a quarter of the 
mammoth vegetable to make them, yet where was the 
rest ? It disappeared, and Rob never seemed to care, 
only chuckled, when it was mentioned, and told his 
father, " To wait and see," for the fun of the whole 
thing was to surprise Father Bhaer at the end, and not 
let him know a bit about what was to happen. 

He obediently shut eyes, ears, and mouth, and went 
about trying not to see what was in plain sight, not to 
hear the tell-tale sounds that filled the air, not to under- 
stand any of the perfectly transparent mysteries going 
on all about him. Being a German, he loved these 
simple domestic festivals, and encouraged them with all 
his heart, for they made home so pleasant that the boys 
did not care to go elsewhere for fun. 

When at last the day came, the boys went off for a 
long walk, that they might have good appetites for din- 
ner ; as if they ever needed them ! The girls remained 
at home to help set the table, and give last touches to 
various affairs which filled their busy little souls with 
anxiety. The school-room had been shut up since the 
ni^ht before, and Mr. Bhaer was forbidden to enter it 

o / 

on pain of a beating from Teddy, who guarded the door 
like a small dragon, though he was dying to tell about 
it, and nothing but his father's heroic self-denial in not 



listening, kept him from betraying the grand secret. 



THANKSGIVING. 359 

"It's all done, and it's perfectly splendid," cried 
Nan, coming out at last with an air of triumph. 

"The you know goes beautifully, and Silas 

knows just what to do now," added Daisy, skipping 
with delight at some unspeakable success. 

" I 'in blest if it ain't the 'cutest thing I ever see, them 
critters in particular," and Silas, who had been let into 
the secret, went off laughing like a great boy. 

"They are coming; I hear Emil roaring 'Land lub- 
bers lying down below,' so we must run and dress," 
cried Nan, and up-stairs they scampered in a great 
hurry. 

The boys came trooping home with appetites that 
would have made the big turkey tremble, if it had not 
been past all fear. They also retired to dress ; and for 
half-an-hour there was a washing, brushing, and prink- 
ing that would have done any tidy woman's heart good 
to see. When the bell rang, a troop of fresh-faced lads 
with shiny hair, clean collars, and Sunday jackets on, 
filed into the dining-room, where Mrs. Jo, in her one 
black silk, with a knot of her favorite white chrysan- 
themums in her bosom, sat at the head of the table, 
" looking splendid," as the boys said, whenever she got, 
herself up. Daisy and Nan were as gay as a posy bed 
in their new winter dresses, with bright sashes and hair 
ribbons. Teddy was gorgeous to behold in a crimson 
merino blouse, and his best button boots, which ab- 
sorbed and distracted him as much as Mr. Toot's wrist- 
bands did on one occasion. 

As Mr. and Mrs. Bhaer glanced at each other down 
the long table, with those rows of happy faces on either 
Fide, they had a little thanksgiving, all to themselves, 



360 LITTLE MEN. 

and without a word, for one heart said to the other, 
" Our work has prospered, let us be grateful and 
go on." 

The clatter of knives and forks prevented much con* 
versation for a few minutes, and Mary Ann with an 
amazing pink bow in her hair " flew round " briskly, 
handing plates and ladling out gravy. Nearly every 
one had contributed to the feast, so the dinner was a 
peculiarly interesting one to the eaters of it, who 
beguiled the pauses by remarks on their own pro- 
ductions. 

" If these are not good potatoes I never saw any," 
observed Jack, as he received his fourth big mealy 
one. 

" Some of my herbs arc in the stuffing of the turkey, 
that 's why it 's so nice," said Nan, taking a mouthful 
with intense satisfaction. 

" My ducks are prime any way ; Asia said she never 
cooked such fat ones," added Tommy. 

"Well, our carrots are beautiful, ain't they, and our 
parsnips will be ever so good when we dig them," put m 
Dick, and Dolly murmured his assent from behind the 
bone he was picking. 

" I helped make the pies with my pumpkin," called 
out Robby, with a laugh which he stopped by retiring 
into his mug. 

" I picked some of the apples that the cider is made 
of," said Demi. 

" I raked the cranberries for the sauce," cried Nat. 

" I got the nuts," added Dan, and so it went on all 
round the table. 

"Who made up Thanksgiving?" asked Rob, ibi 



THANKSGIVING. 361 

being lately promoted to jacket and trousers he felt 
a new and manly interest in the institutions of his 
country. 

" See who can answer that question," and Mr. Bhaei 
nodded to one or two of his best history boys. 

" I know," said Demi, " the Pilgrims made it." 

"What for?" asked Rob, without waiting to learn 
who the Pilgrims were. 

" I forget," and Demi subsided. 

" I believe it was because they were not starved once, 
and so when they had a good harvest, they said, l We 
will thank God for it,' and they had a day and called it 
Thanksgiving," said Dan, who liked the story of the 
brave men who suffered so nobly for their faith. 

" Good ! I didn't think you would remember any 
thing but natural history," and Mr. Bhaer tapped gently 
on the table as applause for his pupil. 

Dan looked pleased; and Mrs. Jo said to her son, 
" Now do you understand about it, Robby ? " 

" No, I don't. I thought pil-grins were a sort of big 
bird that lived on rocks, and I saw pictures of them in 
Demi's book." 

" He means penguins. Oh, isn't he a little goosey 1 * 
and Demi laid back in his chair and laughed aloud. 

" Don't laugh at him, but tell him all about it if you 
can," said Mrs. Bhaer, consoling Rob with more cran- 
berry sauce for the general smile that went round the 
table at his mistake. 

"Well, I will;" and, after a pause to collect his 
ideas, Demi delivered the following sketch of the 
Pilgrim Fathers, which would have made even those 
grave gentlemen smile if they could have heard it. 



362 LITTLE MEN. 

" You see, Rob, some of the people in England didn't 
like the king, or something, so they got into ships and 
sailed away to this country. It was all full of Indians, 
and bears, and wild creatures, and they lived in forts, 
and had a dreadful time." 

" The bears ? " asked Robby, with interest. 

" No ; the Pilgrims, because the Indians troubled 
them. They hadn't enough to eat, and they went to 
church with guns, and ever so many died, and they got 
out of the ships on a rock, and it 's called Plymouth 
Rock, and Aunt Jo saw it and touched it. The Pil- 
grims killed all the Indians, and got rich; and hung 
the witches, and were very good ; and some of my 
greatest great-grandpas came in the ships. One was 
tho Mayflower; and they made Thanksgiving, and 
wo have it always, and I like it. Some more turkey, 
please." 

"I think Demi will be an historian, there is such 
order and clearness in his account of events;" and 
Uncle Fritz's eyes laughed at Aunt Jo, as he helped the 
descendant of the Pilgrims to his third bit of turkey. 

" I thought you must eat as much as ever you could 
on Thanksgiving. But Franz says you mustn't even 
then ; " and Stuffy looked as if he had received bad news. 

" Franz is right, so mind your knife and fork, and be 
moderate, or else you won't be able to help in the sur- 
prise by and by," said Mrs. Jo. 

" I '11 be careful ; but everybody does eat lots, and I 
like it better than being moderate," said Stuffy, who 
leaned to the popular belief that Thanksgiving must bo 
kept by coming as near apoplexy as possible, and escap- 
ing with merely a fit of indigestion or a headache. 



THANKSGIVING. 863 

Now, my * pilgrims ' amuse yourselves quietly till 
tea-time, for you will have enough excitement this even- 
ing," said Mrs. Jo, as they rose from the table after a 
protracted sitting, finished by drinking every one's 
health in cider. 

" I think I will take the whole flock for a drive, it is 
go pleasant ; then you can rest, my dear, or you will be 
worn out this evening," added Mr. Bhaer ; and as soon 
as coats and hats could be put on, the great omnibus 
was packed full, and away they went for a long gay 
drive, leaving Mrs. Jo to rest and finish sundry small 
affairs in peace. 

An early and light tea was followed by more brushing 
of hair and washing of hands ; then the flock waited 
impatiently for the company to come. Only the family 
was expected ; for these small revels were strictly do- 
mestic, and such being the case, sorrow was not allowed 
to sadden the present festival. All came ; Mr. and 
Mrs. March, with Aunt Meg, so sweet and lovely, in 
spite of her black dress and the little widow's cap that 
encircled her tranquil face. Uncle Teddy and Aunt 
Amy, with the Princess looking more fairy-like than 
ever, in a sky-blue gown, and a great bouquet of hot- 
house flowers, which she divided among the boys, 
sticking one in each button-hole, making them feel 
peculiarly elegant and festive. One strange face ap- 
peared, and Uncle Teddy led the unknown gentleman 
up to the Bhaers, saying 

" This is Mr. Hyde ; he has been inquiring about Dan, 
and I ventured to bring him to night, that he might see 
how much the boy has improved." 

The Bhaers received him cordially, for Dan's sake, 



364 LITTLE MEN. 

pleased that the lad had been remembered. But, afte? 
a few minutes' chat, they were glad to know Mr. Hyde 
for his own sake, so genial, simple, and interesting was 
he. It was pleasant to see the boy's face light up when 
he caught sight of his friend ; pleasanter still to see Mr 
Hyde's surprise and satisfaction in Dan's improved man 
ners and appearance, and pleasantest of all to watch the 
two sit talking in a corner, forgetting the differences of 
age, culture, and position, in the one subject which in- 
terested both, as man and boy compared notes, and 
told the story of their summer life. 

" The performances must begin soon, or the actors 
will go to sleep," said Mrs. Jo, when the first greetings 
were over. 

So every one went into the school-room, and took 
seats before a curtain made of two big bed-covers. The 
children had already vanished ; but stifled laughter, 
and funny little exclamations from behind the curtain, 
betrayed their whereabouts. The entertainment began 
with a spirited exhibition of gymnastics, led by Franz, 
The six elder lads, in blue trousers and red shirts, made 
a fine display of muscle with dumb-bells, clubs, and 
weights, keeping time to the music of the piano, played 
by Mrs. Jo behind the scenes. Dan was so energetic in 
this exercise, that there was some danger of his knock- 
ing down his neighbors, like so many nine-pins, or 
sending his bean-bags whizzing among the audience; 
for he was excited by Mr. Hyde's presence, and a burn- 
ing desire to do honor to his teachers. 

"A fine, strong lad. If I go on my trip to South 
America, in a year or two, I shall be tempted to ask you 
to lend him to me, Mr. Bhaer," said Mr. Hyde, whose 



THANKSGIVING. 365 

interest in Dan was much increased by the report ho 
had just heard of him. 

" You shall have him, and welcome, though we shall 
miss our young Hercules very much. It would do him 
a world of good, and 1 am sure he would serve his 
friend faithfully." 

Dan heard both question and answer, and his heart 
leaped with joy at the thought of travelling in a new 
country with Mr. Hyde, and swelled with gratitude for 
the kindly commendation which rewarded his efforts to 
be all these friends desired to see him. 

After the gymnastics, Demi and Tommy spoke the 
old school dialogue, "Money makes the mare go." Demi 
did very well, but Tommy was capital as the old far- 
mer ; for he imitated Silas in a way that convulsed the 
audience, and caused Silas himself to laugh so hard that 
Asia had to slap him on the back, as they stood in the 
hall enjoying the fun immensely. 

Then Emil, who had got his breath by this time, gave 
them a sea-song in costume, with a great deal about 
" stormy winds," " lee shores," and a rousing chorus 
of "Luff, boys, luff," which made the room ring; 
after which Ned performed a funny Chinese dance, 
and hopped about like a large frog in a pagoda hat. 
As this was the only public exhibition ever had at 
Plumfield, a few exercises in lightening arithmetic; 
spelling, and reading were given. Jack quite amazed 
the public by his rapid calculations on the blackboard. 
Tommy won in the spelling match, and Demi read a little 
French fable so well that uncle Teddy was charmed. 

" Where are the other children ? " asked every one as 
the curtain fell, and none of the little ones appeared. 



360 LITTLE MEN. 

"Oh, that is the surprise. It's so lovely, I pity you 
because you don't know it," said Demi, who had gone 
to get his mother's kiss, and stayed by her to explain the 
mystery when it should be revealed. 

Goldilocks had been carried off by Aunt Jo, to the 
great amazement of her papa, who quite outdid Mr. 
Bhaer in acting wonder, suspense, and wild impatience 
to know " what was going to happen." 

At last, after much rustling, hammering, and very 
audible directions from the stage manager, the curtain 
rose to soft music, and Bess was discovered sitting on 
a stool beside a brown paper fire-place. A dearer little 
Cinderella was never seen ; for the gray gown was very 
ragged, the tiny shoes all worn, the face so pretty under 
the bright hair, and the attitude so dejected, it brought 
tears, as well as smiles, to the fond eyes looking at the 
baby actress. She sat quite still, till a voice whispered, 
" Now ! " then she sighed a funny little sigh, and said, 
" Oh, I wish I tood go to the ball ! " so naturally, that 
her father clapped frantically, and her mother called 
out, " Little darling ! " These highly improper expres- 
sions of feeling caused Cinderella to forget herself, and 
shake her head at them, saying, reprovingly, ' You 
mustn't 'peak to me." 

Silence instantly prevailed, and three taps were heard 
m the wall. Cinderella looked alarmed, but before she 
",ould remember to say, " What is dat ? " the back of 
the brown paper fire-place opened like a door, and, with 
some difficulty, the fairy godmother got herself and her 
pointed hat through. It was Nan, in a red cloak, a cap 
and a wand, which she waved as she said decidedly 

" You shall go to the ball, my dear." 



THANKSGIVING. 367 

/ 

** Now you must pull and show my pretty dess," re- 
turned Cinderella, tugging at her brown gown. 

" No, no ; you must say, ' How can I go in my rags ? ' '* 
said the godmother in her own voice. 

" Oh yes, so I mus ; " and the Princess said it, quite 
undisturbed at her forgetfulness. 

" I change your rags into a splendid dress, because 
you are good," said the godmother in her stage tones ; 
and deliberately unbuttoning the brown pinafore, she 
displayed a gorgeous sight. 

The little Princess really was pretty enough to turn 
the heads of any number of small princes, for her 
mamma had dressed her like a tiny court lady, in a 
rosy silk train with satin under-skirt, and bits of bouquets 
here and there, quite lovely to behold. The godmother 
put a crown, with pink and white feathers drooping 
from it, on her head, and gave her a pair of silver paper 
slippers, which she put on, and then stood up, lifting 
her skirts to show them to the audience, saying, with 
pride, " My dlass ones, ain't they pitty ? " 

She was so charmed with them, that she was with 
difficulty recalled to her part, and made to say 

" But I have no toach, Dodmother." 

" Behold it ! " and Nan waved her wand with such a 
flourish, that she nearly knocked off the crown of the 
Princess. 

Then appeared the grand triumph of the piece. First, 
a rope was seen to flap on the floor, to tighten with a 
twitch as Emil's voice was heard to say, "Heave, a 
hoy ! " and Silas's gruff one to reply, " Stiddy, now, 
stiddy ! " A shout of laughter followed, for four large 
gray rats appeared, rather shaky as to their legs and queer 



368 LITTLE MEN. 

as to their tails, but quite fine about the head, wh^ro 
black beads shone in the most lifelike manner. They 
drew, or were intended to appear as if they did, a mag- 
nificent coach made of half the mammoth pumpkin, 
mounted on the wheels of Teddy's wagon, painted yel- 
low to match the gay carriage. Perched on a seat in 
front sat a jolly little coachman in a white cotton-wool 
wig, cocked hat, scarlet breeches, and laced coat, who 
cracked a long whip and jerked the red re ins so energet- 
ically, that the gray steeds reared finely. It was Teddy, 
and he beamed upon the company so affably that they 
gave him a round all to himself; and Uncle Laurie said, 
"If I could find as sober a coachman as that one, I 
would engage him on the spot." The coach stopped, the 
godmother lifted in the Princess, and she was trundled 
away in state, kissing her hand to the public, with her 
glass shoes sticking up in front, and her pink train sweep- 
ing the ground behind, for, elegant as the coach was, I 
regret to say that her Highness was rather a tight fit. 

The next scene was the ball, and here Nan and Daisy 
appeared as gay as peacocks in all sorts of finery. Nan 
was especially good as the proud sister, and crushed 
many imaginary ladies as she swept about the palace- 
hall. The Prince, in solitary state upon a somewhat 
unsteady throne, sat gazing about him from under an 
imposing crown, as he played with his sword and ad- 
mired the rosettes in his shoes. When Cinderella came 
in he jumped up, and exclaimed, with more warmth 
than elegance, 

O 7 

"My gracious! who is that?" and immediately led 
the lady out to dance, while the sisters scowled and 
turned up their noses in the corner. 



THANKSGIVING. 869 

The stateiy jig executed by the little couple was very 
pretty, for the childish faces were so earnest, the cos- 
tumes so gay, and the steps so peculiar, that they 
looked like the dainty quaint figures painted on a 
Watteau fan. The Princess's train was very much in 
her way, and the sword of Prince Rob nearly tripped 
him up several times. But they overcame these obsta- 
cles remarkably well, and finished the dance with much 
grace and spirit, considering that neither knew what 
the other was about. 

" Drop your shoe," whispered Mrs. Jo's voice as the 
lady was about to sit down. 

" Oh, I fordot ! " and, taking off one of the silvery 
slippers, Cinderella planted it carefully in the middle of 
the stage, said to Rob, " Now you must try and tatch 
me," and ran away, while the Prince, picking up the 
shoe, obediently trotted after her. 

The third scene, as everybody knows, is where the 
herald comes to try on the shoe. Teddy, still in coach- 
man's dress, came in blowing a tin fish-horn melodi- 
ously, and the proud sisters each tried to put on the 
slipper. Nan insisted on playing cut off her toe with a 
carving-knife, and performed that operation so well that 
the herald was alarmed, and begged to be "welly keer- 
ful." Cinderella then was called, and came in with the 
pinafore half on, slipped her foot into the slipper, and 
announced, with satisfaction, 

"I am the Pinsiss." 

Daisy wept, and begged pardon ; but Nan, who liked 
tragedy, improved upon the story, and fell in a fainting- 
fit upon the floor, where she remained comfortably en- 
joying the rest of the play It was not long, for the 



370 LITTLE MEN. 

Prince ran in, dropped upon his knees, and kissed the 
hand of Goldilocks with great ardor, while the herald 
blew a blast that nearly deafened the audience. The 
curtain had no chance to fall, for the Princess ran off 
the stage to her father, crying, " Didn't I do it well ? " 
while the Prince and herald had a fencing-match with 
the tin horn and wooden sword. 

" It was beautiful ! " said every one ; and, when the 
raptures had a little subsided, Nat came out with his 
violin in his hand. 

" Hush ! hush ! " cried all the children, and silence 
followed, for something in the boy's bashful manner and 
appealing eyes made every one listen kindly. 

The Bhaers thought he would play some of the old 
airs he knew so well, but, to their surprise, they heard 
a new and lovely melody, so softly, sweetly played, that 
they could hardly believe it could be Nat. It was one 
of those songs without words that touch the heart, and 
sing of all tender home-like hopes and joys, soothing 
and cheering those who listen to its simple music^ 
Aunt Meg leaned her head on Demi's shoulder, Grand- 
mother wiped her eyes, and Mrs. Jo looked up at Mr< 
Laurie, saying, in a choky whisper, 

"You composed that." 

" I wanted your boy to do you honor, and thank you 
In his own way," answered Laurie, leaning down to 
answer her. 

When Nat made his bow and was about to go, he 
was called back by many hands, and had to play again, 
He did so with such a happy face, that it was good to 
see him, for he did his best, and gave them the gay old 
tunes that set the feet to dancing, and made quietudo 
impossible. 



THANKSGIVING. 371 

* Clear the floor ! " cried Emil ; and in a minute the 
chairs were pushed back, the older people put safely in 
corners, and the children gathered on the stage. 

" Show your manners ! " called Emil ; and the boys 
pranced up to the ladies, old and young, with polite 
invitations to " tread the mazy," as dear Dick Swiveller 
has it. The small lads nearly came to blows for the 
Princess, but she chose Dick, like a kind, little gentle- 
woman as she was, and let him lead her proudly to her 
place. Mrs. Jo was not allowed to decline ; and Aunt 
Amy filled Dan with unspeakable delight by refusing 
Franz and taking him. Of course Nan and Tommy., 
Nat and Daisy, paired off, while Uncle Teddy went and 
got Asia, who was longing to "jig it," and felt much 
elated by the honor done her. Silas and Mary Ann 
had a private dance in the hall ; and for half-an-hour 
Plumfield was at its merriest. 

The party wound up with a grand promenade of all 
the young folks, headed by the pumpkin-coach with the 
Princess and driver inside, and the rats in a wildly 
frisky state. 

While the children enjoyed this final frolic, the elders 
sat in the parlor looking on as they talked together of 
the little people with the interest of parents and friends. 

" What are you thinking of, all by yourself, with such 
a happy face, sister Jo ? " asked Laurie, sitting down 
beside her on the sofa. 

" My summer's work, Teddy, and amusing myself by 
imagining the future of my boys," she answered, smiling, 
as she made room for him. 

" They are all to be poets, painters, and statesmen, fa- 
mous soldiers, or at least merchant princes, I suppose." 



372 LITTLE MEN. 

" No, I am not as aspiring as I once was, and I shall 
be satisfied if they are honest men. But I will confess 
that I do expect a little glory and a career for some of 
them. Demi is not a common child, and I think he 
will blossom into something good and great in the best 
sense of the word. The others will do well, I hope, 
especially my last two boys, for, after hearing Nat play 
to-night, I really think he has genius." 

" Too soon to say ; talent he certainly has, and there 
is no doubt that the boy can soon earn his bread by the 
work he loves. Build him up for another year or so, 
and then I will take him oif your hands, and launch 
him properly." 

" That is such a pleasant prospect for poor Nat, who 
came to me six months ago so friendless and forlorn. 
Dan's future is already plain to me. Mr. Hyde will 
want him soon, and I mean to give him a brave and 
faithful little servant. Dan is one who can serve well 
if the wages are love and confidence, and he has the 
energy to carve out his own future in his own way. 
Yes, I am very happy over our success with these boys 
- one so weak, and one so wild ; both so much better 
now, and so full of promise." 

" What magic did you use, Jo ? " 

" I only loved them, and let them see it. Fritz did 
the rest." 

"Dear soul! you look as if 'only loving' had been 
rather hard work sometimes," said Laurie, stroking her 
thin cheek with a look of more tender admiration than 
he had ever given her as a girl. 

" I 'm a faded old woman, but I 'm a very happy one ; 
so don't pity me, Teddy;" and she glanced about the 
room with eyes full of a sincere content. 



THANKSGIVING. 373 

<: Yes, your plan seems to work better ^and better 
every year," he said, with an emphatic nod of approval 
toward the cheery scene before him. 

" How can it fail to work well when I have so much 
help from you all ? " answered Mrs. Jo, looking grate- 
fully at her most generous patron. 

"It is the best joke of the family, this school of yours 
and its success. So unlike the future we planned for 
you, and yet so suited to you after all. It was a regular 
inspiration, Jo," said Laurie, dodging her thanks as 
usual. 

" Ah ! but you laughed at it in the beginning, and 
still make all manner of fun of me and my inspirations. 
Didn't you predict that having girls with the boys would 
prove a dead failure ? Now see how well it works ; " 
and she pointed to the happy group of lads and lassies 
dancing, singing, and chattering together with every 
sign of kindly good fellowship. 

" I give in, and when my Goldilocks is old enough 
I '11 send her to you. Can I say more than that ? " 

"I shall be so proud to have your little treasure 
trusted to me. But really, Teddy, the effect of these 
girls has been excellent. I know you will laugh at me, 
but I don't mind, I 'm used to it ; so I '11 tell you that 
one of my favorite fancies is to look at my family as a 
small world, to watch the progress of my little men, 
and, lately, to see how well the influence of my little 
women works upon them. Daisy is the domestic ele- 
ment, and they all feel the charm of her quiet, womanly 
ways. Nan is the restless, energetic, strong-minded 
one; they admire her courage, and give her a fair 
chance to work out her will, seeing that she has sym- 



874 LITTLE MEN. 

pathy as well as strength, and the power to do much in 
their small world. Your Bess is the lady, full of natural 
refinement, grace, and beauty. She polishes them un- 
consciously, and fills her place as any lovely woman 
may, using her gentle influence to lift and hold them 
above the coarse, rough things of life, and keep them, 
gentlemen in the best sense of the fine old word." 

" It is not always the ladies who do that best, Jo. It 
is sometimes the strong brave woman who stirs up the 
boy and makes a man of him ; " and Laurie bowed to 
her with a significant laugh. 

" No ; I think the graceful woman, whom the boy you 
allude to married, has done more for him than the wild 
Nan of his youth ; or, better still, the wise, motherly 
woman who watched over him, as Daisy watches over 
Demi, did most to make him what he is ; " and Jo 
turned toward her mother, who sat a little apart with 
Meg, looking so full of the sweet dignity and beauty of 
old age, that Laurie gave her a glance of filial respect 
and love as he replied, in serious earnest, 

" All three did much for him, and I can understand 
how well these little girls will help your lads." 

" Not more than the lads help them ; it is mutual, I 
assure you. Nat does much for Daisy with his music ; 
Dan can manage Nan better than any of us ; and Demi 
teaches your Goldilocks so easily and well that Fritz 
calls them Roger Ascham and Lady Jane Grey. Dear 
me ! if men and women w r ould only trust, understand, 
and help one another as my children do, what a capital 
place the world would be ! " and Mrs. Jo's eyes grew 
absent, as if she was looking at a new and charming 
state of society in which people lived as happily an* 
innocently as her flock at Plumfield. 



THANKSGIVING 375 

* You are doing your best to help on the good time, 
my dear. Continue to believe in it, to work for it, and 
to prove its possibility by the success of your small 
experiment," said Mr. March, pausing as he passed to 
say an encouraging word, for the good man never lost 
his faith in humanity, and still hoped to see peace, 
good-will, and happiness reign upon the earth. 

" I am not so ambitious as that, father. I only want 
to give these children a home in which they can be 
taught the few simple things which will help to make 
life less hard to them when they go out to fight their 
battles in the world. Honesty, courage, industry, faith 
in God, their fellow-creatures, and themselves ; that is 
all I try for." 

" That is everything. Give them these helps, then let 
them go to work out their life as men and women ; and 
whatever their success or failure is, I think they will 
remember and bless your efforts, my good son and 
daughter." 

The Professor had joined them, and as Mr. March 
spoke he gave a hand to each, and left them with a 
look that was a blessing. As Jo and her husband stood 
together for a moment talking quietly, and feeling that 
their summer work had been well done if father ap- 
proved, Mr. Laurie slipped into the hall, said a word to 
the children, and all of a sudden the whole flock pranced 
into the room, joined hands and danced about Father 
and Mother Bhaer, singing blithely 

" Summer days are over, 

Summer work is done ; 
Harvests have been gathered 
Gayly one by one. 



376 LITTLE MEN. 

Now the feast is eaten, 

Finished is the play ; 
But one rite remains for 

Our Thanksgiving-day. 

" Best of all the harvest 

In the dear God's sight, 
Are the happy children 

In the home to-night ; 
And we come to offer 

Thanks where thanks are due, 
With grateful hearts and voices, 

Father, mother, unto you." 

With the last words the circle narrowed till the good 
Professor and his wife were taken prisoner by many 
arms, and half hidden by the bouquet of laughing 
young faces which surrounded them, proving that one 
plant had taken root and blossomed beautifully in all 
the little gardens. For love is a flower that grows in 
any soil, works its sweet miracles undaunted by autumn 
frost or winter snow, blooming fair and fragrant all the 
year, and blessing those who give and those who 
receive. 



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